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You rise just before the sun cracks the sky and stretch before picking up the iPad. A computerized lady’s voice says “good morning” and tells you what today’s yoga session is about. You step on the mat, and begin your Vinyasa. She coaches you to “draw the navel to the spine” and “put more weight to the back leg”. She then says “That’s right, that’s your perfect pose”. At the end of the practice, you receive the score on your practice. “80”.
This is the ad created by the Smart Mat company to raise money for their project on the crowd funding website Indie GOGO. Their Tag line: It’s like having your own personal yoga teacher. Launched in December 2014, the campaign raised up to 350,000 USD, almost 300% more than the original capital needed to fund the project.
A Smartmat is an intelligent, interactive yoga mat that helps you refine your yoga practice. Through sensors embedded inside the mat, it tracks balance and alignment as you perform each pose.
How does it work?
When you step on your own new SmartMat, it guides you to perform specific poses designed to give you an initial assessment. (Almost like creating a profile on a Facebook by answering a few questions). The mat connects to your tablet or smartphone via bluetooth. Using the SmartMat App, you can choose to follow online classes while the mat senses your poses and gives you cues to make each one better. The app includes a dashboard that records and tracks your performance. It also includes a marketplace of yoga classes that are updated regularly. Famous Yoga teachers from around the world will also feature their classes on the SmartMat app.
Features of the SmartMat:
- Mat is rechargeable: (6 hour battery life).
- Can detect 62 different yoga poses
- Connects to app via bluetooth (doesn’t need internet connection)
- Rolls like any yoga mat
- Has smart grip surface technology (prevents slipping)
- A library of yoga classes with ranging styles and teachers
- Versatile use (home and studio): It’s portable and foldable, acting like any regular mat
- It does what it says: gives feedback that can be applied on the spot
- Miss out on the vibe of group training
- Battery need to be recharged very often
My Personal Thoughts:
With the surge in demand for tech fitness apps and fitness wearables, the success of this project should be no surprise.
Yoga helps reconnect you back the body. We tend to be so much in our heads these days that we forget to be aware of the subtle signs that our bodies send us. Therefore, relying on a device to tell me what’s happening in my practice will, in my opinion be counterproductive to the main essence of yoga which is mind and body awareness.
I am especially fond of the classes in the app marketplace. A library of yoga videos updated regularly is just my kinda thing. I prefer however to subscribe to just as good websites, which are free or less than 15 dollars/month. Examples include yogisanonymous.com or thehouseofyoga.com. All this using a regular yoga mat. Plus, the last thing I need for my practice is statistics. I have enough numbers to contemplate during the day (work, research and stats, even calories).
Still, if you’re a tech junkie, and you’d like personal numbers that you can beat, it’s not a bad idea to go for it.
How to order?
Mass production is not yet in place, but you may become an early adopter by placing an order through their website. You will have to set a budget for it as it comes at a pricey 297 USD.