Peloton has announced that it is employing Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services to add live subtitles for its live classes.

Previously, the company had provided subtitles only for its on-demand classes, which meant that the signature live experience wasn’t available to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“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,” said Suresh Bathini, Peloton’s vice president of software engineering.

Peloton worked with Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services speech-to-text and translation technology to launch live subtitles in September for its live classes.

One challenge was determining how automated speech recognition software could facilitate Peloton’s specific vocabulary, including the numerical phrases used for class countdowns and to set resistance and cadence levels. Latency was another issue – subtitles wouldn’t be very useful, after all, if they lagged behind what instructors were saying.

Bathini said Azure Cognitive Services was cost-effective and allowed Peloton to customize its own machine learning model for converting speech to text, and was significantly faster than other solutions on the market. Microsoft also provided a team of engineers that worked alongside Peloton throughout the development process.

“Having a support system, especially on the engineering side and software side, helped us accelerate the solution,” Bathini says. “It was a very collaborative process.”

Live subtitling is so far only available in English, but the goal is to make Peloton’s classes as broadly accessible as possible.

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