Smart Yoga Mat Is Your Own Personal Yogi Master
Practicing yoga may be a time to disconnect and concentrate on your thoughts, but a new yoga mat that uses technology to track your positioning and makes real-time suggestions is the personalized instructor of your Shavasana dreams.
The SmartMat — which is gaining significant attention on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, raising $175,000 in just a few days — uses high-tech sensors to help your perfect alignment and poses.
Early backers can get their own SmartMat for a $247 commitment, but supplies are already sold out. It can be preordered, however, for $347 and is scheduled to ship in September 2015.
Traditional rubber yoga mats can cost up to $120 on the higher end, making the SmartMat is a pricy item. Still, you’re paying for a built-in instructor, too.
First, the yoga mat takes your measurements, such as determining arm span by laying on the mat, and then monitors your abilities and limitations. For example, it knows if you’re flexible enough to place heels on the ground during the Downward Dog pose).
As you begin a workout, it corrects your poses along the way, offering suggestions so your hands and feet and the rest of your body are in alignment. It gives you feedback with visual clues, so it doesn’t disrupt anyone else around you, but an audio option lets you avoid spending the yoga session with your eyes glued to a mobile device.
The mat connects to a corresponding app (iOS or Android) via Bluetooth and can be programmed for users at various skill levels and goals (i.e. weight loss vs. toning). It comes with three modes, too: for private use in the home, to help assist while attending classes or “zen mode,” which doesn’t offer corrections in real time but records your session and offers analysis and feedback later.
The concept of a smart yoga mat may seem contradictory for an exercise that is supposed to be all about letting go, but it could be ideal for someone who doesn’t live close to a yoga studio, can’t afford classes or doesn’t have the desire to attend a public class.
The product is a part of the growing “quantified self” movement, which refers to the personal collection of data through various tools, like perfecting your golf swing with a web-connected tennis racquet or a toothbrush that tells you when you’ve missed a spot. But the yoga industry has been largely untouched by the phenomenon and technology in general.
“As little as 30 years ago, there was an uproar in the then small yoga community because of the introduction of rubber mats to practice on the ground instead of a wool blanket,” Neyma Jahan of SmartMat told Mashable. “Although making the skip from a blanket to a mat to one that analyzes can’t exactly be equated, but it shows how the industry and we are evolving.”
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