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Peleton's Live Classes to Include Subtitles for an Accessible Experience

November 09, 2021

The Peloton bike is a popular choice among fitness enthusiasts. It's a high-tech exercise bike with a 22-inch LCD screen that can show thousands of live and on-demand classes. Those workouts, however, can be difficult to access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Peloton worked with Microsoft to add subtitles to live workouts, greatly expanding the accessibility of guided classes. Microsoft highlighted how this addition has affected deaf and hard of hearing Peloton owners in a recent blog post.

Previously, Peloton only offered subtitles for on-demand classes. Live workouts lacking subtitles made it difficult to follow instructors. Their omission also took away some of the interaction that live classes provide, such as receiving shout outs from instructors for doing well. In September 2021, Peloton added subtitles to live classes by utilizing Microsoft's Azure Cognitive Services speech-to-text and translation technology.

Suresh Bathini, Peloton's vice president of software engineering, discovered a person who would sign entire live classes for their partner, who is deaf. "That prompted us to provide subtitles for people who are taking live classes. We want to provide immersive experiences that are accessible to all users," explained Bathini.

The nature of live fitness classes provided unique challenges when it comes to live transcription. Peloton instructors use workout-specific phrases. Any options that would result in lag wouldn't work, as they would prevent students from following along in real-time. Bathini explained that Peloton was able to customize its machine learning model for speech to text. Microsoft provided engineers to help Peloton develop its solution.

"It's terrific to see how Peloton is embracing the power of AI to make their platform more accessible for everyone," said Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure AI. "Using Cognitive Service for Speech, part of the Azure AI platform, Peloton was able to develop and implement live subtitles for its classes, creating a more accessible and engaging experience for its member community, especially for those who are deaf or hard of hearing."

Microsoft's blog post follows the story of two fitness enthusiasts who had their workouts transformed by live subtitles. One of those individuals, David Wolfe Rose, said, "Now I've got the opportunity to do the class live and wait for that shout out, rather than having to go back and watch it a second time."

Source: Windows Central