Peloton has disrupted the in-home fitness industry with its immersive technology. Designed to “bring the community and excitement of boutique fitness into the home,” Peloton’s technology features internet-connected stationary bicycles and treadmills that enable monthly subscribers to remotely participate in classes via streaming media.
The company lives and breathes all things “immersive” and “augmented reality.” At Seek, we are very interested in how respected companies like Peloton are using 3D and AR technology to add value to their customers’ experience.
So, we tested the Peloton website and its new interface that promises to bring some of this immersive technology into the customer journey.
Specifically, we tested these two 3D Product features:
- “See the Bike (or Tread) in your home” feature
- Interactive 3D Product Rendering/Animation
From our analysis, it appears that Peloton is using Google’s open-source Model Viewer to support these specific customer experiences on their website.
The User Experience: What Worked Well
We were able to use the 3D tools on the site – but only with the proper device, browser and settings. The “See the Bike in your home” feature allows a user to view the 3D product in a user’s selected space, and was fairly simple to use: select a Bike or a Tread, engage the Viewer, point your mobile phone camera somewhere in your physical space (like your exercise room) and move it around.
Within seconds the system renders that product, sized appropriately, in that space. It even does a pretty good job with the existing lighting and shading. You can move in and out on the Bike, walk around it, look at it in 360 degrees, as if it actually existed in that space.
The 3D Product renders were slick and the interactivity was smooth as well, superimposed over a plain white background.
We were unable to get the 3D Product viewer to launch on our Android phone with Chrome version 99. The plugin simply would not load, which is interesting considering it’s a Google application.
The User Experience: What Was Awkward
Peloton does not promote these 3D immersive features very prominently on their site. First, visitors have to select one of the “Shop Bike” links sprinkled everywhere on the pages. From there, you select a specific bike, then if you are on a mobile device, you click the “See the Bike in your home” link beneath its product photo. If you are using a desktop, you are faced with the prosaic “View this page on a phone to see it in your home” message.
Which brings us to our first issue: Peloton’s system doesn’t work when using in-app browsers (Facebook, Instagram).
Secondly, while the immersive technology worked well enough, it lacked several features of a robust augmented reality product viewer. For example:
- The feature is only available to mobile users of the Peloton site – desktop users cannot access these features at all. Therefore, desktop users will never see this experience and Peloton may never know if it would have made a difference for somebody visiting this site on something other than a mobile device. While it is true that mobile traffic may be greater than desktop traffic, Peloton may see better conversions and create a more engaging experience by allowing desktop users to at least interact with a 3D model.
- Peloton’s AR system does not allow the user to move from Desktop to a Mobile device. The user has to start over from a new device and click through to the feature.
- Importing the model into your own 3D space was simple enough, and worked well on our iPhone tests. But it was problematic and buggy in our Android tests – in some cases the experience did not load at all, and in other cases the model loaded into our environment, but we could not interact with it.
- There is no data about the model available within your space. A user cannot, for example, click on hot spots on the model to pull up information about that product (features, add-ons, etc).
Analyzing the Business Case
We believe that Peloton’s system is not allowing the company to make full use of this technology today – and certainly not for the long-term.
Since the system is a relatively simple implementation of Google’s Model Viewer with statically hosted assets, Peloton’s 3D experience is vulnerable to a key risk: outdated and broken 3D models. Unlike time proven media like photos and video, 3D model formats are early in their standardization cycle. It can be a challenge to support different file types across all potential browsers, devices, and apps as an in-house technology team.
Furthermore, updates to web browsers, operating systems, and websites can easily break compatibility with a particular version of 3D model format and cause an experience to be unusable.
Conversely, a SaaS-based omnichannel 3D pipeline management platform like Seek, dynamically selects 3D asset versions for each specific platform, transparent to the user, ensuring no incompatibility and that the best experience is always offered.
Leveraging Seek’s enhanced user interaction capabilities and deep analytics, Peloton could create an immersive experience for their users that allows for an easier and richer user journey. Desktop users could easily move into a mobile experience with a QR Code. And Peloton would have a more future-proof platform that is fully managed by 3D pipeline experts.