Soon your yoga mat will be able to tell you what to do

Jun 12, 2014 | Yoga | 0 comments

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3 min read

What if you could have a yoga mat that lit up, told you what to do, and could even make your coffee?

Ok, well, maybe your yoga mat will never be able to make you coffee, but soon it will be able to do the first two.

Meet Glow. Glow is a high-tech yoga mat that talks back to you.

Developed by the Yellow Team in a capstone class at MIT, Glow will soon help you light your way to a more peaceful life.

Working with connections at Tekscan, a leading manufacturer of pressure-sensitive mats, the team of enthusiastic students quickly developed several working prototypes.

Glow looks a lot like a regular yoga mat, but you plug it into your computer (any standard USB port will do), and watch the accompanying yoga video through the web app. The mat lights up to tell you where to place your hands and feet. (The above photo illustrates the hand placement for Downward Dog.)

As if that wasn’t cool enough, the app gives the aspiring yogi real-time feedback. If the mat isn’t sensing enough pressure in the right area, it alerts the yogi with changes to the colour of the LED.

Once the pose is performed correctly, the LEDs in the mat glow green to let the yogi know they did a good job.

After some time with the Glow mat, the yogi will have learned a number of poses. The yogi can then do these poses in a 20-45 minute sequence as compiled by the app. While performing the sequence the yogi continues to get real-time feedback.

To make sure the yoga mat is as close to a real yoga mat as possible, the team started with the basics: a real yoga mat.

The bottom layer of the mat is PVC foam just like you find in almost any mass-produced commercial yoga mat. On top of the PVC layer are air pockets that house the pressure sensing mats. These mats are used by Glow to provide the pressure feedback.

The mat lights up thanks to a series of LED strips on top of the pressure sensing layer. The LEDs are laid out in a grid so Glow can change the placement patterns for people of different heights.

One of the major design challenges the Yellow Team encountered was filling Glow with fancy electronics, LEDs, and sensors, while maintaining the look and feel of a yoga mat.

To make sure yogis can’t feel the LEDs while using the mat, the team embedded the LEDs in a layer of silicone. This silicone is stiff enough the yogi can neither feel nor damage the LEDs.

On top of the mat is another layer of traditional yoga mat PVC foam. After the yoga session, the yogi can spray down the mat with any yoga mat cleaner, and hang it up to dry with the included door hanger.

The strip at the end of the mat houses all of the electronics needed to power Glow. Glow can be powered from any standard home power outlet, and can plug right into any standard USB port.

The Glow yoga mat was born at a good time. The yoga market in America is only growing. There are currently approximately 20 million Americans practicing yoga.

While Glow is not going to available on the market anytime soon, the team is focusing on R&D, producing up to 65 mats in the next year for R&D and beta testing.

When Glow finally hits the market (approximately summer 2015), it will be available for sale for $325.

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