Amazon Halo Rise assessment: an excellent sleep tracker thwarted by my cat

I’m caught in a vicious cycle. My cat is an asshole who likes waking me up at 3AM. In pursuit of a extra peaceable slumber (and a brand new life as an early riser), I flip to all types of devices and sleep tech. It really works for some time, till my cat adopts a brand new technique.

I drowned out his late-night yowls with the Bose SleepBuds II, till he began batting my face together with his paws. I purchased him a cat fountain so he’d cease knocking over the cup on my nightstand; he was happy till he determined it was extra enjoyable to drink condensation within the bathtub after which scream. Inevitably, I get up late and exhausted. Rinse and repeat.

I had hoped to interrupt the cycle with the Amazon Halo Rise, a $139.99 sensible alarm clock, dawn lamp, and contactless sleep tracker rolled into one. And I believe it would’ve labored if it weren’t for my pugnacious purry boy Pablo.


A sleepy jack-of-all-trades

I made a decision to assessment the Halo Rise as a result of I’m struggling to rework from an evening owl to an early chook. Outdoors a bout of insomnia, my abilities embody sleeping by way of three iPhone alarms, a number of vibrating smartwatch alarms, and most of my partner’s nightly pilgrimages to the kitchen. (They appear unaware that potato chip baggage crinkle 1,000 occasions louder at night time.) I learn someplace that dawn lamps may be an efficient but mild solution to get up and was actually in the midst of researching which one to purchase when my editor talked about the Halo Rise.

On paper, the Halo Rise is an environment friendly choice. It helps you get up gently by mimicking pure morning mild throughout your lightest sleep stage and has sensors to observe ambient temperature, mild disturbances, and humidity. You possibly can hyperlink it with an Echo machine, successfully turning it into one other voice-controlled sensible mild. It’s sufficiently small to suit on a crowded nightstand, and its minimal design is flexible sufficient to go together with a wide range of bed room decor.

I used to be most cautious of the Halo Rise’s contactless sleep monitoring. Wearable or mattress-based sleep trackers have a tendency to make use of a mixture of movement sensors and coronary heart charge knowledge to find out which stage of sleep you’re in. There isn’t a accelerometer or optical coronary heart charge sensor within the Halo Rise. As an alternative, just like the Nest Hub, it tracks sleep by way of a low-energy radar that analyzes your motion and respiration. In contrast to the Nest Hub (and a few smartphone sleep monitoring apps), there’s no microphone, so it doesn’t document your snores or voices. There’s no digital camera, both. That’s nice for privateness, but it surely additionally eliminates one other knowledge supply. This in the end means the Halo Rise’s radars and algorithms must be on level for the sleep monitoring to be correct — and in my expertise, radars in sleep devices may be hit and miss.

View of sleep tracking screen in Amazon Halo app on an iPhone with the Halo Rise in the background.

You view your sleep metrics within the Amazon Halo app, which is pretty primary.

Bundling all of those options into one machine is handy, however because the saying goes, a jack-of-all-trades is a grasp of none. Nightstand actual property is treasured; there’s no room for one thing that falls simply shy of nailing all the pieces it’s alleged to do. That’s the place my head was at going into testing. Now that I’ve used it for a bit of over a month, I can say that my instincts have been spot-on — however not due to the Rise.

Operation: sleep no meow

Organising the Rise is simple peasy, however positioning it’s difficult. As a result of it’s a contactless tracker, you could intention it in the correct path. The app walks you thru it, however the gist is that it’s important to:

  • Place it on a nightstand such that the Rise’s steel stand is both the identical top or as much as eight inches above your mattress.
  • Level it at your higher physique.
  • Guarantee there’s about one arm’s size of distance between you and the Rise.
  • Take away any objects between you and the Rise (although bedding is okay).

The exhausting factor is ensuring that it stays this manner. For me, that meant checking that my books, water bottle, and cellphone weren’t obstructing any a part of the Rise earlier than mattress. You possibly can set nightly reminders within the Halo app to verify that all the pieces’s positioned appropriately, however that’s only one extra notification so that you can ignore in your cellphone. However although I did all the pieces proper, there was one issue I couldn’t management: Pablo.

Close up of Amazon Halo Rise on a nightstand, showing circular shape, metal legs, and curved light source.

The Halo Rise is sufficiently small to suit on most nightstands, however you’ll want to verify nothing is obstructing its radars.

I first suspected one thing was off once I began evaluating my historic Halo Rise sleep scores to what I obtained on the Oura Ring, Apple Watch Extremely, Garmin Fenix 7S Sapphire Photo voltaic version, Polar Ignite 3, and several other different wearables and sleep monitoring apps I’ve been testing. I additionally hold a sleep and health journal, so I used to be in a position to cross-reference once I obtained a crappy night time of sleep. Impressively, the Halo Rise was very correct on a few nights when a persistent cough or insomnia woke me up. For these nights, my knowledge and sleep stage graphs throughout all my take a look at gadgets corresponded. On a number of days the place I obtained actually good sleep, the Halo Rise was in a position to acknowledge that, too. Once more, my knowledge corresponded throughout a number of platforms.

However there have been additionally a number of nights when the information didn’t match in any respect. My wearable gadgets would say I’d slept soundly with few disturbances. Solely the Halo Rise would say I’d been up for hours once I hadn’t. For example, the Oura Ring would say I’d had about an hour’s value of awake time. The Halo Rise would say I’d been sleepless for 3 to 4 hours. Generally these wakeful durations matched on sleep stage graphs. Different occasions, they completely didn’t.


Three nights the place I’ve concrete reminiscences of Pablo wrecking my sleep. You possibly can see the discrepancies in awake occasions. In every occasion, my reminiscence aligns extra with the information recorded by the Oura Ring. The Halo Rise was correct at recording mild disturbances, nevertheless.

I requested Dr. Michael Miyamoto, medical director for Amazon Halo, why that is likely to be. Might my partner’s midnight snacking confuse the Rise? In response to Miyamoto, whereas it may possibly’t be dominated out, it’s extremely unlikely, because the Rise is programmed to give attention to the physique closest to it. Miyamoto additionally advised me that individuals typically get up a number of occasions throughout the night time however just for a couple of seconds. The Rise solely information it as a disturbance if it’s an occasion lasting longer than 5 minutes. That’s about once I put two and two collectively. I requested if it have been potential {that a} cat might wreck my outcomes.

Blurry picture of Pablo making way to nightstand

Caught making his solution to the Halo Rise. Glasses have been knocked off the nightstand two seconds later.
Photograph by Victoria Track / The Verge

Pablo clearly sitting between me and the Halo Rise

Caught as soon as once more considering nightstand mischief whereas blocking the Halo Rise. This disturbance was logged the subsequent morning as me being awake for one hour.
Photograph by Victoria Track / The Verge

Right here’s what you could find out about Night time Pablo. Night time Pablo loves chaos, nightstands, and creating chaos on my nightstand. A number of occasions every week, I get up to the sound of my glasses, books, cellphone, Nintendo Change, or water bottle clattering throughout the ground. Why? It took us a very long time to determine it out. It’s not that he’s hungry or thirsty; he has an automated feeder and a elaborate cat fountain. It seems this crepuscular demon desires somebody to witness him consuming kibble. It’s beneath him to dine alone.

Pablo doesn’t all the time knock stuff off of my nightstand. He parks his fluffy butt there for myriad causes. He loves taking part in with my charging cables. He loves sniffing my stuff. He likes having a launching pad for catapulting himself onto my partner’s chest. Generally, he’ll sit proper subsequent to my head and demand scritches. (And if I don’t, he’ll chunk.) It’s not each night time, and I don’t bear in mind each occasion as a result of I often sleep just like the lifeless. That stated, I’ve sleepily witnessed it sufficient occasions over 5 years to realize it occurs.

Briefly, as a result of the Halo Rise zeroes in on the closest physique, it doubtless confused Pablo’s mischief-making as me being awake. I now have an inadvertent document of all of the nights Pablo entered chaos mode. That, in itself, was startling. I knew Pablo generally made it troublesome to get respectable shut-eye — I simply wasn’t conscious of how a lot that added as much as over time. I’ve since caught him within the act and corroborated it with the information the subsequent morning.

For sure, if you wish to use it as a sleep tracker, the Halo Rise is best suited to individuals who don’t have rambunctious kitties (or mattress companions).

Good alarm clock, higher sensible mild

Sleep monitoring is simply one of many issues the Halo Rise can do. Pet-induced inaccuracies apart, it’s not a foul sleep monitoring choice when you really feel uncomfortable sporting watches or rings to sleep. However I used to be extra excited to attempt the sensible alarm and dawn lamp combo.

As talked about earlier, I’m making an attempt to turn out to be a morning particular person. Up to now, I’ve had blended outcomes. I set the Halo Rise’s sensible alarm for six:45AM. After a month, my success charge is about 45 %. On the one hand, the Halo Rise’s default alarm sound is adorably cheery. It jogs my memory of my rice cooker — a tiny robotic singing in a MIDI-esque voice so you recognize it’s time to do the factor. Even my partner stated it was the “least annoying alarm tone” and “kinda cute.” I’d attribute the 45 % of the time I did rise up to the audible alarm. When you don’t like cute bleeps and boops, you’re fallacious, however it’s also possible to join it to an Echo machine to play music as an alternative.

All of your Halo Rise alarm choices:

TKTKTKTKTKTK(opens a brand new window)

On the flip facet, the simulated dawn didn’t assist me a lot. I sleep on my facet, so once I’m turned away from the Rise, I don’t get any profit. My again does. I additionally discovered it a bit of dim, however that’s a me drawback. Most dawn lamps are between 100 and 300 lux, and the Halo Rise is true in that vary with a most of 300 lux. I merely didn’t discover it vivid sufficient as a result of I apparently want a floodlight shining down on me to get up. When you’re extra delicate to mild (or sleep in your again), you may need better success than I did.

The Halo Rise with the light portion turned on

You get a most of 300 lux, which is paradoxically vivid and never vivid sufficient on the identical time.

The irony is that, while you’re awake, the Halo Rise is an effective lamp — particularly when you’re making an attempt to nix blue mild out of your environment earlier than mattress. It was vivid sufficient for me to learn my books and Kindle Paperwhite in mattress with out feeling harsh or overpowering. When you can regulate brightness, you possibly can’t tweak the colour temperature; it’s simply automated variations on heat lighting.

However right here, too, Pablo’s interference sometimes mucked issues up. As a result of he appreciated to get between me and the Rise anyplace between 3AM and 6AM, it’d generally journey up the sensible alarm. That’s as a result of the sensible alarm will go off inside a 30-minute window of your alarm if it detects you’re in a lighter stage of sleep. Except, after all, it confuses a shifting cat for you. The alarm went off between 6:15 and 6:30AM a few occasions, and I’d smash the snooze / off button like I used to be making an attempt to win a spherical of Hungry Hungry Hippos. As soon as I discovered it was Pablo’s fault, I turned off the sensible half and settled for a “common” alarm.

There have been a couple of issues Pablo couldn’t wreck for me. His existence had zero influence on the Rise monitoring the temperature, humidity, or mild disturbances in my bed room. I have already got a good sleep setup — the temperature is all the time a pleasing 65–70 levels Fahrenheit, and we just lately obtained blackout curtains. Nonetheless, it’s a dry winter, and I usually get up hacking up my lungs. The Rise confirmed that our bed room is approach too dry most nights, so we obtained a humidifier. Once I bear in mind to make use of it, it really helps.

Top-down view of the Halo Rise showing its two buttons

There are solely two buttons to recollect: the snooze button (prime) and the on / off button. The snooze button additionally accommodates the sunshine sensor. I had a tough time remembering which was which when sleepy and ended up hitting each till it shut up.

Amazon additionally despatched me an Echo Present to attempt utilizing alongside the Rise. You possibly can, as an example, ask Alexa to point out your sleep knowledge on the Present. It labored once I examined it, however I didn’t discover it helpful. I most well-liked utilizing the Rise as a wise mild with my different Echo gadgets. The truth that you should use it in Alexa Routines and management it with voice instructions is neat, particularly when you’ve already invested within the Amazon sensible house ecosystem. (It’s solely suitable with Alexa.)

Let’s discuss subscriptions

For $140, you get the Rise and a six-month trial of Amazon’s Halo service. After that, Halo prices $3.99 month-to-month. That’s comparatively reasonably priced so far as subscriptions go, however right here’s why I’m not offered. For starters, the Halo app is pretty primary, and it’s not the simplest to view historic knowledge when you’re a self-quantifying nerd. It’s actually solely value paying when you use the Rise alongside the Halo Band or Halo View — and I like to recommend neither because of their weird physique mapping and tone policing options. (Aspect be aware: when you use both tracker, Miyamoto says the app will prioritize the Rise for sleep knowledge.) When you don’t give a flip concerning the Halo Band or Halo View, you nonetheless get almost all the sleep options and a few exercises, recipes, and packages with out membership.

Extremely fat cat sleeping on bed in direct path of the Halo Rise.

Pablo, smug and napping after a tough night time of constructing positive the Halo Rise can’t observe my sleep precisely.
Photograph by Victoria Track / The Verge

In any other case, $140 is on the pricier facet however not egregious given the additional smarts and sleep monitoring. For context, dawn lamps can value anyplace from $50 to $200 for considered one of Philips’ fancier lamps. Whenever you put all of that collectively, I’m unsure why you’d pay for the subscription when you plan on utilizing the Rise by itself.

In the end, the Rise is the perfect Amazon Halo product so far and the primary new Amazon product I’ve appreciated in an extended whereas. It’s the least invasive within the Halo lineup, and whereas it wasn’t excellent for me, that’s not the machine’s fault. It’s Pablo’s.

And earlier than you say something, we’ve tried closing the bed room door. It solely results in the cat destroying any breakable merchandise he can discover in retaliation. Since I really like the bushy bugger and don’t plan on evicting him, I don’t suppose the Rise fits my wants. But when you don’t have a rascally pet, perhaps you possibly can have what I can solely dream of: an uninterrupted night time of sleep.

Conform to Proceed: Amazon Halo Rise

Each sensible machine now requires you to conform to a sequence of phrases and circumstances earlier than you should use it — contracts that nobody really reads. It’s unimaginable for us to learn and analyze each single considered one of these agreements. However we began counting precisely what number of occasions it’s important to hit “agree” to make use of gadgets after we assessment them, since these are agreements most individuals don’t learn and positively can’t negotiate.

To make use of the Amazon Halo Rise, it’s essential to pair it with an iPhone or Android smartphone. That features the cellphone’s phrases of service, privateness coverage, and some other permissions you grant.

By organising the Amazon Halo Rise, you’re agreeing to:

When you select to make use of the Halo Rise with an Echo machine, it’s essential to additionally conform to that machine’s phrases and privateness coverage. The identical is true when you resolve to make use of it with Amazon Alexa.

Last tally: two necessary agreements and not less than 4 optionally available agreements.

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