The big catchphrase at CES this year is Internet of Things, and we’re now seeing that marketing prophecy manifest itself in all manner of wearable and non-wearable items. One in particular that caught my eye was this sensor-laden interactive yoga mat. The built-in sensors not only detect what’s going on pose-wise, but it also leverages this input against a known set of values to provide feedback and and a bit of intelligent coaching.
Having recently started incorporating yoga into my daily routine, well – almost daily, I can see the beauty in a product like this. Due to years of abusing my body in multisport activities my version of certain yoga poses is, shall we say unique. But despite that bit of awkwardness I am finding that yoga does really help with overall flexibility and range of motion, and doesn’t just make me look cool like the cursory before-and-after-a-run token stretching I’ve been doing all these years.
The problem with my version of down dog and crow is that it has a tendency to disrupt a yoga class, and once the instructor overcomes her giggling fit, I am often way behind the flow of the rest of the class. So this device allows you to practice whatever level of yoga you call your own in the privacy of your home, thus allowing the group classes to progress along normally. Though on down the road of product lifecycle they plan to develop a group class version that would allow an instructor to effectively monitor everyone’s pose quality and even allow for remote group instruction via internet connectivity.
Once calibrated the SmartMat intelligently detects your position for known poses by monitoring your pressure points for various body parts as they fire off signals through any of the thousands of built-in sensors. You can see that in the plank pose above where Little Miss Nimble is putting a tad too much pressure on her left big toe. So with instant feedback through your connected mobile device you can see how this would be a great way to progressively improve your technique and to maintain consistency .
At a pre-show event last night I met the Chief Yogi of SmartMat and had a great discussion, but was unable to see the unit in action. But today they were doing live demos complete with iPad in the handy built in stand. What is notable is that even tough she is basically taking position and pose cues from a video, she is also getting real-time feedback based on her her foot position and contact point pressure.
I suspect I speak for all endurance athletes when I say we could all use more stretching and full body strengthening to counteract all that other stuff we do to our bodies. And really, the gadget-geek factor alone for this thing makes you really want one. Oh, and I know you are wondering if it can withstand the environment in a Hot Yoga class, well it can with its 110 degree temperature rating, though they do caution you to come prepared with a waterproof case for your iPad.
And though it seemed to be a bit buggy here at CES they are still claiming a July release date, at just under $300.
Welcome to CES 2015! Don’t forget to check out all my CES 2015 coverage, as well as my continual updates throughout the day on Twitter. It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!
Welcome to DCR Randy!
While I’m not sure about my ability to use this gadget, if the Internet yogi/self improvement side of this works as outlined, I could see this being a great Christmas present for the wife next year! $300 seems pretty reasonable for what it offers.
Definitely interesting, but that price tag? Ouch!
I was definitely wowed by the initial look at SmartMat, but one downside I can see is that it works only in “real time” feedback mode using a connected device. It appears not to store the info for later review. So this mat would not work well, if at all, in say a Bikram class – they wouldn’t want you staring at your iPad during the class! But just like cycling metrics, particularly the advanced power metrics, there’s a lot of value in post-workout analysis of the info; even if you’re only looking at a small subset of it (cycling), or none of it (yoga) during the actual activity itself.
btw, although my primary activity is cycling, like Randy I’ve also been doing yoga for a while. Interestingly enough, the yoga has had a noticeable (positive) effect on my bike fit. As my flexibility has increased (although ever so slowly and painfully), my bike fit has also needed to change to adapt.
Their website says it has 3 modes. the “Zen” mode, do the recording.
“Zen: This mode leaves SmartMat quietly on to record your practice so you can review and analyze it later. However, during the actual practice there is no active feedback from SmartMat.”
Joez, thanks for pointing out the Zen mode feature. Yes, I saw it on the Indiegogo page after you mentioned it. This feature makes the SmartMat much more useful for use in an actual yoga class.
Thanks, Randy. Your review was great and made me laugh.
Down dog…..Namaste, you know the rest…..
DCR Overload! Nine posts in two days! The readers love it. Only, I don’t have enough free time to read them all. I might have to take more work time to get caught up.
Randy, what a cool friend you are. Thanks for the help on this most awesome blog.
When I start a blog, I’ve got to make sure I have a cool friend like you.
Ray and Randy, Thanks for writing!
While this is awesome for the home practitioner, IMO this would be horrible for yoga studios where it would undoubtedly disrupt the flow of the class. Perhaps for small beginner only classes it would be ok. Most of the classes I go to there is a set flow and a sense of being inside your own self. This would take away from that.
Is that 110 degrees 43C or 230F? This could make a huge difference given the temperature in some places in summer, especially in a parked car. 43C would be effectively useless and the mat would be destroyed in even relatively cool countries while 230F would allow cleaning with boiling water
Yeah, good points Dave. Their website does specifically state 110F.
Thanks Randy, I figured it would be in American but gave up on their web page as it reminded me too much of a PowerPoint presentation. That makes it quite a low number in my opinion, some places in Europe I’ve been reached 45C during summer months and I’m sure certain states in the US are similar. That’s in the shade, so if this thing is anywhere near sunlight it could be killed. Hopefully it’s just a case of them picking a number out of the air which is higher than hot yoga needs rather than a tested breaking temp 🙂
Seems to run contrary to the whole yoga philosophy. But I suppose if you are happy to neglect the mind and focus on the body (and the ipad in front of you, and perhaps the dent in your wallet) it is up to you!