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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Let's Talk About Amazon’s Home-Patrolling Robots

About this time every year, Amazon announces a slew of new products. Some of them are fairly normal: new Echo speakers, smart screens, video doorbells. But sometimes the company will roll out something truly bonkers, like a flying home security drone or a Roomba-like robot with an extending periscope camera that wheels around your house. Outlandish or otherwise, the company's output offers a look at where it's headed. And this year, Amazon seems increasingly intent on becoming a home security company.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior associate reviews editor Adrienne So joins us to talk about Amazon's deluge of new products, including that absurd Astro robot.

Show Notes

Read Lauren’s story about Amazon’s Astro robot. Check out everything Amazon announced at its September event. If for some reason you want to buy Amazon’s Ring home drone, you’ll have to get on the invite list. Here’s Adrienne’s story about the Amazon Halo fitness tracker that listens to your tone of speech. And here’s Lauren’s review of the Amazon Dash shelf. Also read Engadget’s story about how Amazon is turning into a security company.


Adrienne recommends the Back Bay Tempo 30 earbuds. Mike recommends the “Folk Fabrique” playlist on Spotify. Lauren recommends Anne Helen Petersen’s column “The Counterintuitive Mechanics of Peloton Addiction” from her Substack newsletter, Culture Study.

Adrienne So can be found on Twitter @adriennemso. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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Lauren Goode: Mike.

Michael Calore: Lauren.

LG: Mike, is there an echo in here?

MC: I think there are about 78 Echoes in here right now.

LG: Are they all listening to us right now?

MC: Yeah, they're always listening. For the wake word, but they're still always listening.

LG: We have much to discuss today.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]

LG: Hey everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode, I'm a senior writer at WIRED.

MC: I'm Michael Calore, I'm a senior editor at WIRED.

LG: Welcome back from Colorado, Mike. We missed you this week.

MC: Thanks.

LG: You were on some big outdoors extravaganza.

MC: Yeah. I'm glad to be back at sea level.

LG: You saw elk.

MC: And heard them. They bugle. I didn't know that about elk.

LG: They bugle? Really?

MC: Yeah, they do.

LG: Wow. Could you imitate the sound for us here on the podcast?

MC: Absolutely not.

LG: OK. I'm going to come back to that. We're also joined this week by WIRED reviews editor Adrienne So, who is joining us from Portland, Oregon. Adrienne, great to have you back on the show.

Adrienne So: Hi guys. I am free for elk bugling whenever we've reached that point.

LG: What does it sound like? Have you heard an elk bugle?

AS: I have not, but we can speculate now if we want.

MC: They sound … Like, you might think they're coyotes.

AS: Wow.

LG: Wow.

AS: That is so cool.

LG: I would not think that for an elk. Or elk, plural?

MC: You know what? Ask Alexa.

LG: All right, way to bring it back to gadgets. It's another week. It's another fall hardware launch. We definitely call this silly season for a reason. Some people call it Techtober. This week, it was Amazon. Amazon is now known for this deluge of new hardware every September, and this past Tuesday was no exception. There's a new thermostat. It's a really cheap thermostat. They partnered with Honeywell for this. There are updates to the video-based Echo Show. There are even more Ring security cameras, including a drone for inside your home. We first saw it last year, we saw it again this year. We're going to talk about all that today. Because all of us, we're covering the event virtually, but we're not going to bury the lead here. The product that really stole the virtual show was Astro. Astro is a robot; it's a robot for your home. It's not another robot for Amazon warehouses. We have feelings about Astro. But Adrienne first, just describe Astro. This is the fun part. Tell our lovely podcast listeners what this thing looks like and what it does, in the most descriptive terms possible.

AS: You can describe Astro as a feeling, which is 10 tech reporters screaming simultaneously into Slack, I think was the reaction. It's 2 feet tall, it's 20 pounds. It uses SLAM navigation, which is a pretty common robot vacuum navigation mechanism to just kind of roll around your house, creepily trailing your 4-year-old as they play. It has a neck that can extend sensors, cameras, and microphones, and it costs about $1,000. It can't go up the stairs, thankfully. So you have some place in your house where you're safe.

LG: You likened it to a robotic vacuum, which a lot of people on the internet this week were comparing it to. But it doesn't vacuum, and it's $1,000. I'm befuddled.

AS: Well, here's the thing. It doesn't precisely do new things. It takes things that have been circulating and just makes them infinitely creepier. Like, I have been seeing prototype versions of help robots, usually marketed as eldercare robots. And they seemed very fine and helpful for older relatives, like just running small errands around your house. But somehow, I can't quite pinpoint the reason why having an all-encompassing Amazon bot is simultaneously, like, more helpful and also way worse. Maybe we can hash that out here.

LG: Oh yeah. We have seen at CES in recent years … We didn't go to CES in person in 2021. But CES 2020 and years prior, we would see these helper bots like you're describing. Then it was interesting to see this year, they were kind of repositioned as cleaning bots. Like, they would use UV light or some other mechanism to clean your house and disinfect. But they're generally very expensive. And even if they're not really humanoid, they are very futuristic feeling. You have this feeling when you see them, like, "These are probably not ever really going to come to my home." And then you have on the other side of the robotics sphere, something like what Boston Dynamics makes.

The design, the build is absolutely incredible. The way their gears are made, how agile and dexterous they are. And then people see those, and they go, "Wow, these are our future overlords." But even though we're saying, "Oh, $1,000 is a lot of money," it actually is kind of a more accessible version of those home robots we've been seeing for years, and people might actually get this thing.

MC: Yeah. And you have to sign up for the privilege of purchasing one. So they're doing this by invitation only. And I know we'll talk about that later, because the other stuff we're going to talk about is also invitation only. But I think it's kind of interesting. I always have to ask myself, "Why is Amazon so into this? Why are they so into putting robots in your home?" And I have a bit of a theory that I can walk you through. We know that they have been using robots in their fulfillment centers for a very long time. About 10 years ago, they bought a company called Kiva Robotic, which makes like a little robot that can lift a pallet. It can lift, like, over a ton of stuff and move it around inside a warehouse.

A couple years ago, The Washington Post did some reporting and said that Amazon has 200,000 of those robots moving around this warehouse. It's no longer called Kiva Robotics, it's called Amazon Robotics now. And this is like a big thing for them, for supply chain, fulfillment, and distribution stuff. So why do they want to put robots in your home? They learn a lot about those SLAM navigation systems that Adrienne was talking about. They learn a lot about that when they put it in your home, and then they study the data. There was a lot of hand-wringing this week about how the data will be shared with Amazon. So the robot will do a lot of its learning and a lot of its navigation on-device. But then, in order to improve the utility of the robots that everybody owns, it's going to upload that user data to Amazon. Which the engineers can then use to improve the software and make everybody's robots better at like, not bumping into things, or just understanding how humans move around the home.

AS: Yeah. Well, robot vacuums are getting smarter and smarter too. I've already started to see some of these crowdsourcing and AI stuff in robot vacuums. Like a robot vacuum that uses SLAM navigation, and then begins to identify which parts of your house are your kids' bedroom, or your kitchen, or your living room. And Amazon being able to do that and just run all these little in-person errands for you around your home. Like Astro can identify where your bathroom is, and it has your purchase history. And it can say it's been four weeks since you ran out of toilet paper. I know that you had somewhat mixed feelings about the Dash Shelf, Lauren. So imagine your little robot just reordering your diapers and your ketchup, and it could just wander in and check the fridge for you. Would that be awesome or completely terrible? Would you end up with 75 bottles of ketchup?

MC: Maybe? It would be worth seeing if that's what they do with it, because that's my big question about Astro. What is it for? Like, a warehouse robot is for moving pallets, a Roomba or a robot vacuum is for vacuuming your floor. What is this for? Is it really going to do that? Is it going to use its cameras to see when you're out of ketchup? Is it just for companionship? I don't even think Amazon knows the answer to that.

LG: Yeah. I wrote on WIRED.com this week that Astro is “a robot without a cause” for that reason. And truth is, I don't think Amazon is fully sure yet what this is for. They're still trying to define exactly what the use case is for Astro. And so there are three sort of layers to consider here with a home robot like this. One of the ideas, is like, "Yeah, what exactly is it for? What would you use it for in your home?" It's really hard to say. We often buy things or have purchase intent, because we think it's going to fulfill a specific need in our lives. And it's hard to say with Astro. The second thing is just any kind of privacy concerns about having something with cameras, this periscope camera that just kind of emerges out of the top of the bot. Or microphones just trailing you, or your guests, or your children around the house. I think that's a very legitimate concern.

And then the third thing is just how do you feel generally about sort of being a beta tester for Amazon in this regard? Because it is, as Mike mentioned, by invitation only. And so it's not going to be selling millions of them to people right out of the gate. Amazon also says it wants to sell more than hundreds. So let's just say thousands. If thousands of these are in people's homes, and it's still considered fairly experimental, you're going to be sending potentially, data back to Amazon where it's going to learn how you are using it in the home, what you're doing in your home, what you're buying for your home, and then helping to shape what Astro ultimately becomes. Some people would be down for that, but some people just don't want to be Amazon's beta testers.

AS: Here is one thought. Because one of the things that Amazon announced during the event was that you can now call emergency services, which you didn't used to be able to do. One of the use cases that we've seen for our prototype bots is eldercare. And with updates to Alexa together with the care hub, you can now call emergency services. If Astro can walk around your house and see if one of your elderly relatives has fallen, and then can call 911 for you. It's occurred to me, though I don't know if anybody's going to be eager to put bots in their 90-year-old parents' home.

LG: Yeah. And it also integrates with Ring too, right?

AS: Mm-hmm.

LG: So if you have Ring cameras outside of your home, then I guess you could use the tablet on the Astro bot to view what's happening?

AS: I guess so. And that was another thing. As somebody who tends to be pretty circumspect about in home camera systems, you eventually learn that there are places is that are your safe zones in your home. Like, I'm fine with cameras outside. Definitely not fine with them around my children's rooms or near where my children are playing. So the idea that there is a bot that can just travel wherever it pleases, whenever it wants, is really unnerving.

LG: Adrienne, what else stood out to you from the event the other day?

AS: The kids … Amazon kid updates, they're really reaching out to future Amazon customers starting at three or four. These are the biggest partnerships in children's entertainment, Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon. When I saw that they had partnered with Blippi, I almost barfed out of my eyes. Because I have spent about a year avoiding Blippi, that monster. And now, he's coming for me. So it's a lot easier to resist a MegaCorp on my own behalf than it is on my children's. So if this partnership with Disney keeps moving forward, I really don't know what I am going to do.

LG: So Amazon is making the hard pitch to your kids now, basically. It's almost as if there isn't a hearing going on right now as we tape this with a giant tech company, and it's influenced over the lives of kids.

AS: I know.

LG: We'll save that for another podcast. All right, we're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to talk about more Amazon product announcements with a focus on security and its Ring brand.


LG: Welcome back. All right. Aside from the Astro robot, Amazon also showed off some other, I guess you'd call them more normal, smart home gadgets. Maybe. All right. A lot of them are themed around security. So Amazon owns the brand Ring and we saw some new Ring cameras, alarm systems, video doorbells, that kind of thing. We also saw the Ring Always home cam, which was first announced last September, but never actually launched. It's still not really launched, it's once again, one of these invite only devices. And it's basically a drone that flies around inside your home. We're going to talk about that. Amazon also revealed a new video doorbell from Blink, which is another smart home company that it bought.

So Amazon is not only putting cameras and microphones in your home through its Echo brand and learning a lot from your voice queries, and what you're doing on things like the Echo Show. But it's moved more and more into the home security space over the years. And it seems like it's really eager to position itself as the company for smart home protection. Adrienne, talk about this a little bit. And also tell us, are you currently using Ring cameras in your own home?

AS: I used to. I tested one last year and we let the subscription expire. Yeah, this is a real behind the curtain moment here. Because we and the reviews team have been really struggling with of how we are going to cover Ring and Ring cameras. I think we've disagreed with some of Ring's policy decisions in the past, which makes it really hard to wholeheartedly recommend a piece of hardware even if we like it. They're simple, they're easy to use. They are reasonably priced and it's hard to reconcile policy decisions with a piece of hardware that is pretty good. Because the ultimate thing here, is that the smart whole smart home ecosystem, it's easier and it's more useful if all of your devices are on a single network. If you already have an Echo, it's easier to use Amazon devices that are going to play nicely with each other. We already have people on the gear team who are Google people versus Apple people versus Amazon people. It's just more useful if it's all together. And what is more all together, than Amazon? So it's a really tough, tough question on a number of levels.

LG: And that is a question I get a lot from friends and family when they're looking to invest in home security. Mostly I hear, "Should I get Nest or should I get Ring?" And then in some cases, they might not be fully aware that Nest is owned by Google, and Ring is owned by Amazon. And so my response is, "Well, whose universe do you want to live in more, Google or Amazon?" And that's kind of the decision that you have to weigh at high level these days.

MC: Yeah. So one thing that I asked myself after walking away from the event, is why is Amazon investing so much in smart home security? They purchased Ring, they purchased Blink. They have this whole ecosystem of cameras. Everything works with Alexa, everything works with Echo Show. So is this just something that feels like a natural add on to the devices that they've already made that are interactive, that have screens, that have cameras like this is just sort of the natural extension of what Amazon has already come up with? Or is there something else? Do they have consumer data about like, people are really spending a lot of money on this stuff? Do they feel as though, if they make it and it works with Alexa, that people will buy it? Or do they feel that people will trust them? There are just so many questions about why it feels like this is such a huge opportunity, because it doesn't feel cohesive to me yet. It's so disparate, so many different brands. It doesn't feel like a system.

LG: Yeah, it's a really good question. And I think it was Engadget a couple days after the event, wrote a story about how Amazon is essentially turning into a personal security company with all of these strategic acquisitions that it's made, and all the products that it's putting out now. And the way that they described it, is like the robots are kind of the face of Amazon's in home security business, but Ring is actually the backbone. And Astro, the bot, is demonstrative of that. It's kind of branded like this friendly thing and it's for inside your home, but really, the 10-inch tablet on it becomes a monitoring system for whatever Rings you have installed in your home, for whatever video streams that you're getting served up. Or maybe, you're paying for Ring's cloud service, for its premium service for advanced features, and that kind of thing.

Yes, Amazon knows these things are going to sell. It has a tremendous amount of data on what people are buying on its platform, and probably other platforms as well. It knows that people are very into home security days. But I think also, it's ultimately selling you on this service with Ring. Also, that's part of the controversy. Because Ring has signed agreements with I think more than 2,000 police departments around the US. And in these partnerships, basically it enables with some of their products, people to go into the Ring app and opt to share video with police departments. It also allows police departments to request video data from Ring. And this is something that privacy advocates and the electronic frontier foundation have really expressed concern about.

EFF revealed that at one point, the LAPD had targeted black lives matter protests last summer with these bulk Ring requests for footage from doorbell cameras. And those are protected activities by the first amendment. And yet, it's possible that police departments are reviewing this footage and actually going to accuse people of some kind of malfeasance, or crime, or something like that as a result. And Ring had changed its policies. Like we've done briefings with Ring in recent months where they've said, "Look, we're trying to be more transparent about this. We're hearing these concerns. We've now made it so that when police do we request Ring footage, the information request itself, is made available to the public."

So people like journalists and civil rights advocates, don't have to jump through hoops to file these public information requests, it's a little bit more accessible. But the partnerships do still exist. And I guess that's not really answering your question directly, about why Amazon is in this business, in my opinion. But it's an important part of the business, these partnerships, that it doesn't seem inclined to back away from. If anything, it wants to push more into.

AS: Here's my answer to that question, Mike. Which is that home security cameras and stuff as a gear tester, it fits this specific category for the customer. Which is the items that just have to be good enough, like frictionless and good. Like, toilet paper, or composition notebooks, and multiple home security cameras around your house. And that was one of the most striking things about nearly everything that Amazon announced that day, which is that, "I have seen this before. It was probably better. It cost $50 more." So almost everything. Like if it's a product that's just good enough … Which goes completely against our inclination as gadget writers and reviewers to find the thing that works the best, but that's not what people want. They just want something that is going to be affordable and is going to work. And that is something that Amazon is uniquely positioned to provide I think.

LG: That is so true.

MC: Yeah. They're this big company and they can make things at scale and they can compete. They can sell products as lost leaders. But that march towards, "Let's just make all the stuff cheaper so that you can buy more of it." That's what really causes a lot of friction for me. Because it is important that anybody who's considering buying this stuff, stops and asks themselves whether or not they actually need it, or it's something that they feel comfortable having in their home. And a lot of people buy home security cameras, baby monitors, or just things with cameras on them and put them around their house. And don't necessarily ask themselves that hard question.

Also, a lot of people might feel as though they don't have anything to hide or that they don't feel that they necessarily have anything to worry about. But the important thing to remember, which is what all of the privacy and security experts will tell you, is that anything that opens up the potential for abuse is bad. Like, "Don't put a camera in your home unless you absolutely need a camera in your home. Because the potential for that camera to be abused, if it's connected to the internet, is probably not worth putting it in your home."

AS: Here's what I would actually like Amazon to provide to me personally, which is a baby monitor, but it only registers cries above a certain level of decibels. So no cameras, but just like little whiny cries, it filters out. But then it gets above a certain decibel level, broken leg level, that is actually when I want to know. This is the data that I need, that they are not providing to me with this just good enough philosophy.

MC: Just like a human parent. That's great.

AS: Can Astro do that?

LG: I actually feel like Amazon is on its way there. Like it's gotten closer to interpreting our moods and voice tones.

AS: But they took that off the Halo.

LG: They took it off the Halo, but they can still do it. And then doesn't Alexa also … This was announced, I think two years ago at the event, because I have recollections of this being in person. Where if you lower your tone or the volume of your voice, when you talk to Alexa, she'll respond in a whisper. So there's definitely voice recognition technology that can recognize like, the pitch or tone of our voices.

AS: Yeah. Sometimes, my son is actually hungry and sometimes, he just wants to bother me. So if Alexa could just close the door, shut the door, ignore, or … This is what we need to Astro for.

MC: I need one of those for my cat really.

LG: Yeah. They'll call it the crocodile tears feature.

AS: Yeah.

LG: So we haven't really arrived at a firm conclusion as to how we feel about Ring products. Because it really is kind of a mixed back. It is a controversial product. But to your point, Adrienne, they are … And certainly the in-home drone is controversial, I think.

MC: I have a conclusion about that, which is that you should not buy it.

LG: Yeah, no. Isn't that the way with a lot of the tech we're using these days, companies are making it so easy for us to integrate these products into our lives. And sometimes, you integrate them, and then you realize that maybe we've all gone a step too far.

AS: Yeah. Everyone wants to come to us for answers, but we're approaching these products in a way, like just as consumers, too. I think it's OK to have evolving viewpoints on a lot of this stuff.

MC: Yeah, like you want protect your home, but also you don't want to contribute to the surveillance state. You want to see what's going on in your backyard, but also, you don't want to open yourself up for the potential to have that device hacked or abused in some way. You don't want to capture video of people who you like without their consent. But also, you would like to capture video of bad people who are trying to do you harm without their consent. So where do you draw the line?

LG: That is an excellent question and I think we're going to have to address it again in another podcast.

MC: Or seven.

LG: Or seven, or 17 of them.

MC: Yeah.

LG: All right. We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to do this week's recommendations.


LG: Adrienne, as our guest of honor this week, please go first. Tell us your recommendation.

AS: So one of my Beats is workout headphones. And I recently tried to pair, these are the Back Bay audio Tempo 30, and they cost $40. And when I opened up the package, I was just completely shocked. And I called our AV reviewer, Parker Hall and forced him to try them immediately, because I just couldn't believe that these are only $40. We have a full review forthcoming, but I think it's a general rule of thumb that you get what you pay for with headphones. The $40 or $50 price point has always just been kind of a crapshoot. But these are so good and so cheap, that I just couldn't believe it. Nice aluminum case, smaller than my iPod case. The fit is super secure, especially if you have like super tiny ears. And they were just … I went rock climbing with them yesterday and was dangling upside down and they didn't fall off. I was like, "What is happening?"

MC: They're workout buds. So are they like sweat proof and all that?

AS: Yeah, they're waterproof, big base boost. You can tap, make my Kesha, my Elle King was coming in hot yesterday. Yeah, I couldn't believe it. If you've been looking for a pair of workout buds for under $100, I think I found them. So that was pretty crazy.

LG: Now you've inspired me to … Well, maybe if I get the headphones, I'll be inspired to work out. So thank you. I'll be inspired to do something. I've been exercising, but do something maybe a little more active.

AS: I'll mail you a pair.

LG: Thank you. All right. That's a great recommendation. Thanks ASO. Snackfight, what's your recommendation this week?

MC: I'm going to do that thing, which is really annoying both, for you and for everybody who listens and I'm going to recommend some music.

LG: Why is that annoying?

MC: Well, just because I have like non-mainstream taste and I like to tell people about interesting music that they maybe have never heard before and otherwise, would not encounter. And some people think that that's annoying.

LG: Yeah. Swedish prog rock, hit me with it.

MC: It's psych pop. Swedish psych pop.

LG: Sorry, but you also listen to prog rock, don't you?

MC: So the thing that I'm recommending, is from a different part of the world, it is a playlist on Spotify and it is called Folk Fabrique. Two words, folk F-O-L-K. Fabrique like fabric, but spelled the French way with an I-Q-U-E at the end. The Folk Fabrique playlist is a playlist that always exists on Spotify. And it's usually filled with a lot of north African music. This month, it is curated by the artist Mdou Moctar, who is a really amazing guitarist. And it's actually like a whole band is called Mdou Moctar, but that's the name of the main person. And they play this sort of energetic rock, and they're from the Sahara. So all of the music has all these really wild mix of influences from West Africa, North Africa, Europe, and the United States. And like James Brown.

This playlist is just chalked full of really amazing north African and Saharam music, and I had never heard of any of these artists before. And so many of them have just these rich discographies and just amazing sounds. And really wild styles of singing, and playing, and rhythms. I can't recommend it enough. If you are an adventurous music listener, and you're really into the kind of funky weird stuff, then you should check out the Folk Fabrique playlist on Spotify, curated by Mdou Moctar. Now, I don't know how long that curation is going to last. It'll probably stay up for a few months, but it might go away tomorrow. So either way, the playlist has always been great, but it's extra great right now.

AS: Mike, by far the worst part of reviewing workout headphones, is having to reveal and print that all I listen to is Kesha and Jesse J. So I need all the help I can get, and I will click on this immediately.

MC: I'll send you music recommendations all the time if you want.

LG: Mike, you actually have really great music recommendations. And the last time you were over here, I put you in charge of the Sonos and you did play a pretty great playlist. And I think I gave it like two hours and then I was like, "OK, I'm putting something else on that's more mainstream."

MC: That's am eternity for me.

LG: It was pretty great though.

MC: What's your recommendation, Lauren?

LG: My recommendation this week comes from actually someone I would call a friend of the pod. Anne Helen Peterson is a Substack writer. She writes the Substack Culture Study. She has been on the show before to talk about burnout and her book about burnout. And she's been working on a Peloton series as part of her Substack. She calls it an ongoing on the overarching cultural significance of Peloton. I'm very intrigued by Peloton, I'm a Peloton user. I've written about it for WIRED before. And I'm generally just kind of interested in not only what the company is doing, but why this particular digital workout brand has managed to attract such a rabid user base, and what its special sauce kind of is. And so she had done a couple of earlier pieces. This one this week, is really good. It's called "The Counterintuitive Mechanics of Peloton Addiction."

And she talks about this kind of dichotomy that exists between the leader board, which is the thing that's supposed to spur people or inspire people and keep them hooked while they're on the bike. But also, how many of the instructors actually tell you not to pay attention to the leader board and the kind of thrill she gets from watching her placement on the board.

But then she kind of got over that, and talks a little bit about like, there's this pivot point for people with disordered relationships to exercise and how Peloton may or may not feed into that. I thought it was very good. The one she did prior to this, was all about Ally Love's wedding. Ally Love is an instructor, popular Peloton instructor. And she had this like five-day extravaganza wedding in Mexico and posted about it quite a bit on social media. And so Anne Helen did a really interesting sort of, I don't know, thought piece on the wedding and this idea of the celebrity or micro celebrity in today's day and age. And I just find this series fascinating. So I recommend if you are not subscribed to Culture Study, subscribe. But check out the Peloton series in particular.

MC: Nice. Does it cost money? Sorry, did you say that?

LG: It does cost money, and I forget how much I pay. Might be $5 a month, I think

AS: I think mine is $50 a year. I went whole hog on the AHP Substack.

LG: Good for you.

AS: The Peloton thing, I've had kind of a piece the works about how the thing that's so addictive about Peloton is the relationships you develop with the instructors. And I just cannot figure out a way to write it that's not just calling up Olivia Amato and just being like, "Let's be buds." This is an abuse of my journalistic powers, and I have to find abetter way to kind of worm in there.

LG: I may or may not have just been having a conversation about Matt Wilpers over breakfast this morning. So Adrienne, I feel you.

AS: Let's go to the workouts, stalk them on Instagram, lurk outside of strategic buildings, whatever you got to do.

LG: I used to take Matt Wilpers' classes in person, in New York city long before he was an Instagram star. And he had a Picasa album. Now, I'm really dating this.

MC: Wow.

LG: He had a Picasa album that he'd say to people like, "Sign up on a clipboard in front of the class." And then he'd put your email on his mailing list. And when he would go out on these long bike rides in beautiful places, he would create photo albums to show them via Picasa. RIP Picasa.

AS: Oh my God, Picasa.

LG: Yeah. I feel like a Wilpers OG.

AS: Were you listening on your Zune when you were looking on Picasa?

LG: I was probably on my iPod Nano. Yeah.

AS: Best device ever. Let's devote a future episode just to the iPod Nano.

LG: Well, this has been a delightful conversation. Wow, we really covered a lot. This show has everything, robots and surveillance technology. Peloton and Folk Fabrique playlist on Spotify. Really, what other podcasts in the world do you need to listen to? We've got it all here. Thank you, Adrienne, for joining us as always.

AS: Thank you guys for having me.

LG: And thanks Snackfight, for being a great co-host.

MC: Thank you.

LG: And thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes, we love hearing from you. And this show is produced by the excellent Boone Ashworth. Bye for now. We'll be back next week.

[Gadget Lab outro theme music plays]

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