Alexa Can Measure Your Workout Through Amazon Echo Buds Earbuds
Amazon is upgrading the Echo Buds earbuds with new fitness features designed to track runs and other exercises. The voice assistant acts as a kind of Fitbit in your ears, measuring your steps and other parts of the activity in a workout profile, with the whole feature controlled by voice command like any other Alexa skill.
Echo Buds owners need to create a workout profile on the Alexa mobile app to access the exercise feature, putting in physical details like height and weight before starting to workout. Once the profile is set up, and the earbuds are in place, a user just has to say, “Alexa, start my workout,” for the voice assistant to start measuring. The Echo Buds use built-in accelerometers to track the wearer’s steps during the exercise and Alexa then combines that information with the data added beforehand to measure distance, pace, calories burned, and other metrics. While running, people wearing the Echo Buds can also ask Alexa to change the music and start either specific playlists or ones appropriate to the moment like “fast songs for running.” After asking Alexa to end the workout or run, the user can ask the voice assistant for data. The feature will be rolling out in the U.S. and UK this week, with other counties under consideration, Amazon said.
Alexa is a facet of other fitness-focused devices, augmenting Fitbit smartwatches starting with the Versa 2 last year and the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 smartwatches this past summer. The voice assistant was alone on the smartwatches until Fitbit added Google Assistant to the new smartwatches this month while upgrading Alexa with a vocal response option. The fact that Google is in the process of acquiring Fitbit likely helped motivate the decision to give the Echo Buds fitness features, beyond the obvious potential demand.
The Echo Buds are the first of Amazon’s in-house wearables to use the voice assistant for fitness, but not Amazon’s first exercise-focused wearable tech. But, Amazon’s new Halo fitness wearable is Alexa-free despite two microphones and an advanced AI. The microphones are instead for the Tone feature, which analyzes the sound of a wearer’s voice, reporting how they might sound to others. The wearable can perform sophisticated diagnoses, like determining someone’s body fat based on photos. The steps-tracking will help the Echo Buds stand out compared to Amazon’s rivals. Apple AirPods and Google Pixel Buds 2 have accelerometers but don’t use them for fitness at the moment, and the $129 Echo Buds are cheaper than the $159 and $179 Apple and Google options, respectively. After including fitness features into the Echo Buds, it will be worth watching to see if the reviews of the hearables go up in esteem.