Speaking of extraordinary yoga mats, a bunch of MIT students created the nerdiest disco version we’ve ever seen, with all the bells and lights and whistles. It’s called the “Glow” and it literally glows with LED lights and speaks to you with automated instructions. Pretty neat and tech-tastic MIT, but frankly we’re disappointed no one’s come up with the hologram yoga mat yet (when you step on it, a hologram teacher appears – your favorite local instructor, BKS Iyengar or whomever you like! coming to a future near you.)
So how does Glow work and why’s it cool? Different colored LED lights. duh. And pressure sensors that respond to weight distribution and give you a shock, er, indicator light when you do a pose incorrectly.
“[Users] watch a video of a trained yoga instructor on their computer, while LEDs in the mat light up to show them exactly where to put their hands and feet,” MIT senior and Glow co-creator Julia Ellermeier says. “At the same time, pressure sensors monitor weight distribution across the mat. The system uses this data to give real time feedback to the user by changing the colors of the LEDs lit up across the mat.”
Tech people are obsessed with this realtime feedback data stuff (See: bad posture zapper, Kinobi, Eyes-free Yoga), which is certainly interesting when it comes to athletics and the human body. Is it really needed for yoga? Ellermeier says one of the main benefits of the mat is that people can practice in the privacy of their own home and make improvements based on the collected data from their own practice in comparison to “yoga experts.”
“The LEDs are programmed to light up depending on the pose and the height of the user and memory is stored both in the microcontroller and the user’s computer,” she says. “The pressure mats then measure the pressure distribution of the user on the mat and are able to relay information and compare with data from expert yoga instructors. If the user’s pressure distribution doesn’t match up with what it should be, then the user will be alerted by the LED’s changing color.”
Here’s where we find a few flaws. Yoga experts’ bodies are not your bodies, our bodies, or anyone else’s bodies but their own. And weight distribution, telling as it is, can’t really be the determining factor of whether or not the pose is “correct” for you. However, there is potential for the technology to assist in special circumstances, say if the practitioner was blind, rehabilitating post-injury or maybe recovering from a stroke. The students are currently filing for a patent and the class project may soon become a real product, so it will be interesting to see where they take it.
We think it’s totally awesome people are developing new whosiwhatsit yoga gadgetry, but we’ve yet to come across anything that can really outweigh (pun intended) the benefits of human interaction and instruction. Now, get these puppies into a yoga studio and we’re pretty sure that’d be one hell of an interesting time. We can think of one or two classes in particular who can be your first customers. For now, though, we’re cool at home with our trusty Master Sweaty Pants.
[Via Boston Magazine]
LED image via mashinglane.com