The Amazon Halo Band, announced a few days ago, is a lovely looking, lightweight fitness tracker that gathers stats on your wellbeing throughout the day. The Halo companion app then presents this all in a nicely designed app so you can spot trends and take action to improve your health and wellbeing.
It’s also pretty creepy. Not only does the Halo track your steps, sleep patterns and activity levels (so far, so normal), it also monitors your tone of voice, tracking how you’re interacting with other people and warning you if your voice is lacking in ‘energy and positivity’.
As one of my colleagues noted, it sounds like a digitally outsourced Father Christmas, checking if you’ve been naughty or nice.
This judgy-sounding metric is calculated using voice samples recorded using an integrated microphone. Amazon assures potential users that these snippets are deleted after being analyzed and you can switch off the microphone any time, but I can’t help wondering what its purpose is.
People working in a customer-facing profession (call center operators or sales assistants, for example) might be assessed on their ability to put on a happy face and maintain a cheery demeanor, but is that really something you want to track in your day-to-day life?
Polish your Halo
In fact, the workplace is the only place I can see a demand for something like this – one step on from the automated monitoring of services and software that already happens in some companies.
Humanyze is one of several companies that helps workplaces keep tabs on employees’ mood, productivity and engagement by processing their use of email, calendars, video conferencing, along with data from biometric sensors. The resulting analysis can then be used to check how happy employees are at work, and see how large groups are reacting to changes.
A wearable makes it more personal. The Halo Band is currently in Early Access, and can only be purchased by invitation, but it’ll be very affordable $99 (roughly £75, AU$140) when it’s launched globally so I can easily see companies choosing to equip employees with it so each person can self-monitor their chirpiness on the job.
If you’re interested in monitoring your happiness and energy levels for yourself, I personally recommend using a mood tracking app, which lets you quickly enter a rating each day, along with optional notes about events or worries that may have affected how you’re feeling.
After a while, you’ll be able to look back and see for yourself how your mood fluctuates over time, and if there are any events that consistently stress you out or make you unhappy.
These apps are typically free and only store data locally on your phone, but to be assured of absolute privacy, you can easily jot it down in a notebook instead – which also has the added advantage of costing just a few pennies. I don’t know about you, but that makes me pretty happy.