Amazon is closing Halo health division, laying off staff and offering hardware refunds

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Amazon sent a notice to Halo customers today announcing that it will be closing its Halo Health division effective July 31. In the announcement is news of layoffs and full refunds for hardware purchased in the past 12 months.

That includes Amazon Halo View, Halo Band, Halo Rise, and a bunch of accessories. That’s not an unprecedented move (Google did something similar when it recently shut down Stadia), but it’s a sign of goodwill for customers and a tacit acknowledgment that the hardware won’t be worth much if its associated services shut down. . The company will also terminate subscription fees and refund prepaid amounts.

“At Amazon, we think big, experiment and invest in new ideas like Amazon Halo in our efforts to delight customers,” the company notes in a letter addressed to “Halo Member.” From the beginning of August, all the above products will no longer work. Amazon also threw in information for recycling the hardware and storing scanned images on a phone’s camera roll.

Those affected by layoffs, on the other hand, do not seem to have received much warning,

We notified affected employees in the US and Canada today. In other regions, we follow local processes, which may include time to consult with employee representatives and potentially result in longer timelines to communicate with affected employees. For employees impacted by this decision, we offer packages that include severance pay, transitional health insurance benefits, and outside employment support.

At the end of last month, the company announced 9,000 layoffs, on top of the 18,000 it made in early January. Amazon’s hardware divisions were disproportionately affected by the first round, with a strong focus on the Alexa/Echo team.

The original Halo tracker was greeted with privacy pushback when it was announced in August 2020. A few months later, we spoke to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar about the concerns.

“I really think there should be rules,” she told AapkaDost at the time. “The reason I am writing HHS is because they should play a bigger role in ensuring data privacy when it comes to health, but between the HHS and the Federal Trade Commission they have to come up with some rules to protect personal health information . And I think the Amazon Halo is just the ultimate example of it, but there are a number of other devices that have the same issues. I think there are some state regulations and things like that, and we just need federal standards.

The line continued to grow rapidly, adding the Halo View, an $80 Fitbit competitor, in late 2021, alongside additional fitness and nutrition programs. Last September, it announced the Halo Rise, a bedside sleep tracker, which went on sale at the end of the year.

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