Peloton is releasing a new product, and there’s something strange about it to me. They announced they are releasing the Peloton Guide on April 5, 2022. It’s $295 for the Guide alone, and will show you your form on screen next the instructor for strength classes. You don’t need a Peloton Bike or Peloton Tread to use the Guide, you only need a TV. While they’ve announced it for strength classes, my guess is they’ll be rolling it out to other classes like yoga incrementally. They accidentally released a yoga class to the public recently where the instructor describes how to use the Guide with the class, so we know they’ve been at least testing it.
But here’s the part that’s confusing to me: in their promotional materials, they haven’t mentioned anything about offering form corrections or feedback.
You can view yourself onscreen and visually compare what you’re doing with what the instructor is doing and that it will vaguely track your movements, but that’s a far cry from being told what you should adjust and being a virtual trainer. The reason this is confusing to me is because Peloton acquired Otari Studios around December 2020. Otari was a company that made a product to give AI-driven feedback for yoga and other mat workouts. So shouldn’t Peloton have the technology already?
These are what I think are the most compelling reasons why Peloton Guide does not provide form tips. These are pure speculation, of course, but seem to me to be the most likely.
My theories on why the Peloton Guide does not provide feedback…yet
Otari didn’t have the technology built
It could be that when Peloton acquired Otari, it was more of a patent acquisition than a technology acquisition. Maybe the technology wasn’t far enough along in the process for it to be a solid enough start for Peloton, and they had to start from scratch.
Even if this was the case, I think that Peloton would have had enough time to build the technology since then. They have some of the best product and engineering teams around, and I think they could have built something users would be happy with by now. There are a lot of products out today that recognize exercises and provide form suggestions.
Peloton has the technology, but not the data
Peloton might have the technology built, but not enough data for the AI to function best. Machine learning needs data fed to it in order to, well, learn. This data would be things like videos of people working out, categorizations of exercises, and what correct form looks like.
When you look at a product like Tempo (a connected fitness product focused on strength training in your home) that offers form correction, it was developed after the company already had a lot of data to feed the AI. Before they created Tempo, the company (then known as Pivot) had a gym-based product called SmartSpot that was used by trainers in gym. Through that, Tempo built a database of over 1 million tagged workouts. With that data, it would be much easier to train a new AI to provide form feedback.
With the release of the Guide now, Peloton could capture that data more easily. They could categorize the workouts they release and mark the beginning and end to a particular exercise being done. In fact, you can see that being done as part of their tracking of movement in their promotional material.
If Ben Alldis is doing tricep kickbacks between 1:25 and 1:55 in a video, Peloton could process a Guide user’s video during that time in the workout and categorize that automatically as a video for tricep kickbacks. The tracking of the movement that has been advertised would also help it filter out what videos are good to process for machine learning and what wouldn’t be. It’s much easier than manually categorizing videos, and it would provide more real-life data for the Guide specifically than what they could film themselves or potentially buy from a 3rd party.
It’s a business decision
I think that they will provide form feedback at some point, and it’s highly plausible they have a rollout plan or roadmap already. Peloton does a lot of incremental releases, so I am expecting more features added to the Guide as time goes on. I would not be surprised if in September, when companies are announcing their new products for the holiday shopping season, it’s announced that the Peloton Guide will start providing form feedback.