Amazon Halo Discontinued As Controversial Health Business Struggles

Amazon has announced that it is shuttering its fitness division that gave birth to the Halo series of devices. Support for the entire portfolio of Halo devices will end on July 31, 2023. In an email shared with Halo customers today, Amazon says it will refund them for all purchases made in the past 12 months. The refund offer covers the Halo Band and Halo Band View fitness bands, the Halo Rise sleep tracker, and the official Halo accessory bands. Moreover, the company will also refund the prepaid fee for unused subscriptions linked to the Halo devices.

Going a step ahead, Amazon will also stop charging for active monthly subscriptions. Existing Halo customers and subscribers won't have to do anything about the whole process, as all refunds will automatically be processed to their preferred wallet used for Amazon service payments. A month after official support for Halo devices ends, Amazon says all the Halo devices and the companion service will cease to work. 

The date for Halo-pocalypse has been set for August 1, 2023. If you seek to dump your Halo devices responsibly, Amazon is also offering a free shipping perk toward its own recycling program. But do keep in mind that if you're a Halo customer, you need to download your health data before that date, by going to the Settings section of the companion app.

You won't be missed, Halo!

Amazon is also offering users the opportunity to save all scanned images to their phone's local image gallery before the app and the dashboard become non-accessible. To recall, the "Body" opt-in feature that ships with the Halo wearables asks users to take a full-body image in minimal clothing for the sake of body fat analysis and creating a long-term profile. Those images were stored and processed in Amazon's cloud, which requires quite some leap of faith given Amazon's own track record with safeguarding sensitive user data

The Halo project had raised eyebrows from its first innings, primarily because of the sheer scope of data that Amazon's hardware sought to harvest, which included everything from sensor data to copies of full-body images and even 24/7 voice analysis for the Tone service. Such was the privacy scare that even Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote an open letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, highlighting the security and antitrust implications of Amazon's project.

As for the employees in the Halo division, Amazon hasn't given a figure about the layoffs. However, the company is promising "separation payment, transitional health insurance benefits, and external job placement support" to the employees parting ways with the Halo division. The layoffs are not unexpected, as Amazon has announced two rounds of organizational restructuring in the past few months that have seen a record number of employees losing their jobs.