Peloton has been on an acquisition spree, and one of those acquisitions included wearable startup Atlas Wearables.
The buyout was apparently completed in late 2020 and has now been confirmed along with the purchases of companies that specialised in digital voice assistants and interactive workout mats.
There's no details on how much Peloton paid for Atlas Wearables, but founder Peter Li and his team have moved to the fitness tech giant to work on "AI and computer-vision technology projects," according to LinkedIn.
That has subsequently meant an end to the Atlas Multi-Trainer 3 watch, which was still going through the testing phases, likely up until the startup was snapped up.
What is Peloton acquiring in Atlas Wearables?
Atlas Wearables has been in the wearable space since 2014, when it entered the crowdfunding fray and raised over $500,000 on Indiegogo for its Atlas Wristband, which launched in 2015, and we tested out in 2016.
With runners, cyclists and swimmers well served by wearables for tracking performance, Li and his team set out to offer a better solution for tracking workouts in the gym and at home with or without weights.
It did that by using wearable motion sensors like accelerometers and gyroscope sensors along with processors to track the motion in 3D. It then matched those with a library of exercises that included barbell, dumbbell and bodyweight exercises.
It also included a heart rate monitor to measure effort levels and separately created the Atlas Engine app, which promised to track similar activities using your phone's sensors.
It launched its second generation Wristband upping the memory, expanding the exercise library database and enabling you to store more freestyle exercises to work out with.
The Multi-Trainer 3, that never made it out to the masses, moved away from the awkward (absurd) look of its first two wrist-based trackers and offered to accurately recognise over 1,000 different exercises.
So, is a Peloton Watch on the way?
Now that's the big question. The fact Peloton has snapped up a wearable maker would obviously lead to speculation of a Peloton wearable. The company's bikes are big bucks, and if users are happy to spend big on its smart bikes and treadmills and monthly subscriptions, it's not entirely out of the question to think they'd do the same on a wearable, it if promises to enhance the experience.
Peloton already has a wearable presence, offering support for heart rate monitors for its smart bikes and treadmills. It also has an Apple Watch app that will let you use the smartwatch's heart rate monitor, track indoor running metrics and give you a heads up on the next gruelling set in your home workout.
Building its own wearable hardware to rely less on Apple's and heart rate monitors makes sense. But the Atlas team working on "AI and computer-vision technology" suggests maybe this won't take the form of a fully-fledged smartwatch.
Atlas' strength as a startup was undoubtedly in its software and the huge library of exercises it had amassed in what Li dubbed the 'Sweat Lab'. It invited personal trainers from boot camps, private gyms, public gyms, digital trainers to help build that library to make sure it covered the wide range of variations in moves.
Peloton could well be looking to use those particular smarts to building into a device where the onus is on being able to identify exercises and being able to count the number of reps. There are apps and some watches that offer elements of these features, but Atlas' devices promised to deliver on both fronts and in our experience did a very good job of it.
It's easy to imagine wearing a wearable device while you jump on your bike and then jump off it to do a weights-based workout and that device can monitor all of that activity from one place. Peloton already offers that tracking for some areas, but there is a gap when it comes to picking up the weights or grabbing a kettlebell.
A more natural comparison would be the Whoop Strap 3.0 – which focuses on recovery data and workout tracking that's become a cult hit among functional fitness types and gym-goers.
Why buy Atlas Wearables now?
Apple launched its Fitness+ platform in 2020
Peloton has pretty much become synonymous with working out at home and like any success story, others will seek to emulate that success.
Like Apple, who launched its Apple Fitness+ platform in late 2020. The Apple Watch is very much at the heart of what is overall a very slick experience. While it might not make smart bikes or treadmills like Peloton, Fitness+ offers workouts for indoor bikes, treadmills and rowing machines and brings its wearable into play to make it a more motivating experience.
Peloton will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Apple's move and will want to stay of Apple and the rest of the competition. While its bike and more recently Tread treadmill offer a well-rounded experience, its home workout app offering doesn't feel vastly different from the hundreds of fitness apps you can also download.
Adding the ability to accurately track a large and diverse range of exercises and count reps would elevate Peloton's offering in a compelling way. With Atlas Wearables having already made significant progress on that front, it's going to be intriguing to see how Peloton puts those smarts to good use.
A wearable makes sense, but competing with the Apple Watch does not. But if Peloton can create an experience that prioritises home workouts, and offers true workout detection and rep counting, that could be something special.
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