The Cult of Peloton: Reinventing the Fitness Industry, and Becoming a Microcultural Phenomenon

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High-tech cycling platform creates a connected community.

At Peloton, Robin Arzon, vp, fitness programming, says classes are known as ‘shows’ and instructors as ‘talent.’

Until a month ago, I had never taken a spin class. While friends and colleagues made regular pilgrimages to boutique fitness studios like SoulCycle or Flywheel, the allure of sweating buckets and feverishly cycling en masse to the beat of Beyoncé as an all-too enthusiastic instructor shouts encouragement about “feeling the burn, baby!” eluded me.

Mostly, I prefer to exercise alone.

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Amazon rolls out new ways to monetize Alexa’s skills

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All Alexa skills developers can now monetize their voice apps with in-skill purchases, Amazon announced last week.

The introduction of in-skill purchasing allows skills developers to sell premium digital content — such as subscription services or one-time purchases that augment a skill’s free offerings — within an Alexa skill.

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SoundHound has raised a big $100M round to take on Alexa and Google Assistant

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As SoundHound looks to leverage its ten-plus years of experience and data to create a voice recognition tool that companies can bake into any platform, it’s raising another big $100 million round of funding to try to make its Houndify platform a third neutral option compared to Alexa and Google Assistant.

While Amazon works to get developers to adopt Alexa, SoundHound has been collecting data since it started as an early mobile app for the iPhone and Android devices. That’s given it more than a decade of data to work with as it tries to build a robust audio recognition engine and tie it into a system with dozens of different queries and options that it can tie to those sounds. The result was always a better SoundHound app, but it’s increasingly started to try to open up that technology to developers and show it’s more powerful (and accurate) than the rest of the voice assistants on the market — and get them to use it in their services.

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Anyone can now create Alexa skills in a matter of minutes

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Amazon on Thursday unveiled “Alexa Skill Blueprints,” code-free templates that any Alexa owner, regardless of experience level, can use to create customized Alexa skills in a matter of minutes.

Amazon included over 20 templates across four categories — Fun & Games, At Home, Storyteller, and Learning & Knowledge — with plans to add more.

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Alexa Is a Revelation for the Blind

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Legally blind since age 18, my father missed out on the first digital revolution.

“Is it ‘Electra?’” my father asks, leaning in close to the Amazon Echo my mother has just installed. Leaning in close is his trademark maneuver: Dad has been legally blind since age 18, the result of a horrible car crash in 1954. He has lived, mostly successfully, with limited vision for the 64 years since.

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EZVIZ’s ‘Lookout Smart Door Viewer’ turns a peephole into a smart video doorbell

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Home security camera maker EZVIZ announced its first product for smart entry security at CES 2018 today, with the debut of the Lookout Smart Door Viewer. The system is designed to work with the company’s new ezGuard security camera, as well as with other EZVIZ products and Amazon Alexa.

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This company is trying to disrupt the braces industry and dentists are fighting back

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SmileDirectClub offers to straighten your teeth at a fraction of the cost of braces, without a visit to the dentist. But orthodontists claim the company has endangered the oral health of tens of thousands of people.

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Ingenious AI converts images of food into a list of ingredients

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Researchers at MIT have developed deep-learning algorithm that can compile a list of ingredients and even recommend recipes after looking at photos of food. The artificially intelligent system still needs some fine tuning, but this tool could eventually help us learn to cook, count calories, and track our eating habits.

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This $130,000 self-deploying building can unfold in just eight minutes

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Building a home or temporary shelter by hand can be both time-consuming and expensive.

Ten Fold Engineering, a housing startup based in the UK, has created self-deploying buildings that can pop up in a matter of eight minutes. Owners push a button, and the rooms fold out like an accordion using a counterbalance system.

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