E-Yoga Mat

PROJECT TITLE
E-Yoga Mat

PROJECT BY
Priya Bandodkar

PORFOLIO IMAGES

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION

‘E-Yoga Mat’ is an experimental textile interface that allows users to learn accurate Yoga ‘Asanas’ or poses by interacting with different touchpoints positioned on the yoga mat. The interactions trigger a feedback on the screen using Processing, that consists of an image depicting the precise posture for the respective Asana. The touch interface has textile switches that use capacitive touch and analog pressure sensors. The switches are made of custom-cut felt in shapes of hands, feet and the posterior body part to visually facilitate interactions. Users can use switches individually or in combinations to learn different poses. The current framework consists of a set of eight Yoga poses. However, this is completely customizable, and more poses can be added through different switch combinations. The intent of the experiment is to provide yoga practitioners with a natural, tangible interface that enables them to understand the correct posture through immediate, interactive feedback. It does away with the dependency of physical communication with computers for learning yoga by bringing interface into the textile itself.

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

  • The interface is intended for yoga practitioners (beginners and advance).
  • The intended application is solution-oriented, enabling users to learn yoga efficiently through tangible interactions with textile touchpoints.
  • The feedback is screen-based and consists of visuals sent out using Processing.
  • The sensor readings are sent from Arduino to Processing using AP_Sync library.
  • The interface lives outside the user’s body as a textile accessory that facilitates yoga.
  • The interface senses actions of its direct user.
  • The interface build uses conductive fibre, thread and fabric as well as resistive velostat.
  • The yoga mat is close to 72” long and 24” wide and has sensors at different point on this areas. Users interact by touching the sensors with their bare hands, feet or by sitting.
  • The interface attracts a natural interaction consisting of graceful yoga postures that trigger sensors through touch and body weight.
  • The frameworks consists of four capacitive and one analog sensor.
  • The interface currently has a totally of eight interaction modes by using single and combinations of five sensor inputs.
  • The build consists of the yoga mat, felt material sourced from Walmart and conductive thread, fibre, fabric and velostat provided by Kate during class.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Textiles are closely connected to humans and play vital role in meeting basic human needs of clothing and shelter. Clothes are said to be imbued with life stories, interwoven with experiences and identities, and embedded into the “fabric of our lives” (Cobb & Lapolla, 2019). I found this relationship of humans and textiles very intriguing. I thought the idea of building switches and circuits using textiles was extremely exciting, mainly because of the opportunities it offered in creating an ‘invisible’ interface. The use of threads, fibers, and materials with conductive properties as building materials made it so much easier to embed them into users’ natural environment and eventually to facilitate user experience.

With this in mind, I intended to build a tactile interface in the wearable context that used human-textile interactions to foster physical and mental wellbeing, leveraging the connectedness. While looking up for inspirations from existing fitness wearables, the first one that came up was the Fitbit band, a physical activity tracker designed to help monitor fitness routine.

fitbit

Fitbit Fitness band & app
Image Source: Fibit
https://www.fitbit.com/en-ca/home

Narrowing down to fitness wearables made up of textile switches, I came across the Sensoria smart socks. A pair of smart socks infused with textile pressure sensors that monitored foot-landing technique while running and informed users in real-time when striking with the heel or the ball of their feet through a foot heat-map on a mobile app.

sensoria

Sensoria Smart socks Heatmap, Real-time feedback
Image Source: Sensoria Smart socks
https://www.sensoriafitness.com/smartsocks/

Concept

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India (Feuerstein , 2013). Outside India, it has developed into a posture-based physical fitness, stress-relief and relaxation technique (Burley, 2000).

The most common reasons cited for practicing yoga are for the purposes of back pain and stress reliefs, but studies have increasingly suggested that it could also be used to help reduce depression. In fact a series of recent studies have brought yoga one step closer to becoming a recommended treatment for depression, after having realised it can reduce symptoms of the condition (Whiteman, 2017).

yoga

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Image Source: Medical News Today
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318774.php#1

It goes without saying that posture is crucial to achieving optimum benefits in this form of exercise. Personally, having practised yoga in the past, I was well-aware of the struggle of switching between finding the pose reference on the computer and trying it out on the mat. Thus realizing the affordance of pressure and touch sensors during class, I came up with this idea of building a tactile interface on the mat itself. An interface that would give real-time feedback in the form of images of the posture on the screen without having to physically leave the mat!

concept

I had initially designed the circuit using three analog pressure sensors, for hands, feet and posterior parts of the body. I redesigned the circuit leveraging the touch interactions of bare hands and feet, thus creating four capacitive touch sensors for each hand and foot and a fifth analog sensor for sitting.

sensors

Material and Build Process

  • I procured the Yoga mat and coloured felt fabric from Walmart.
  • Using stencils, I cut out shapes to indicate hands, feet and butt touchpoints on the mat.
  • I then felted conductive fibre into the hand and feet materials to create the four capacitive sensors.

felting-1

  • I created the analog pressure sensor for the butt using resistive velostat marterial and conductive fabric.
  • Then, I gued these sensors to the mat using fabric glue.
  • I completed the circuit by sewing conductive thread on the rear side of the mat, connecting the sensors, fixed resistor to Adafuit playground board.
  • Finally, I secured the loose ends of the thread with glue to avoid circuit compromise.

build

Feedback and Aesthetics

As described the response mechanism was screen-based triggered using Processing through touch and pressure on single or combination of sensors by the user. To make the visuals more relatable, I designed them to match the aesthetics of the physical sensors. I thus used textures of felt and conductive fibre to depict the poses and their respective names.

aesthetics

CODE

https://github.com/priyabandodkar/E-Yoga-Mat

There was an interesting finding while reading sensor inputs to create combination sensor poses. When two or more sensors were activated simultaneously, their readings went down to zero. I thus had to factor this into the Processing code for these specific combination poses.

OUTCOME

  • Participants appreciated the easy-of-use of the textile interface.
  • The immediate, interactive feedback was helpful in understanding postures Yoga Asanas.
  • The switches worked precisely and brought expected results.

NEXT STEPS

I plan to add gifs instead of static images in the visual feedback. As I think would be a more effective cue to help achieve the Yoga Asana accurately.

 REFERENCES

Cobb, Kelly, and Lapolla, Kendra. “Wearing Well-Being: Co-Creative and Textile-Based Approaches to Enhancing Palliative Care.” Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice, June 2019, pp. 1–22., doi:10.1080/20511787.2019.1633898.

Chandler, Nathan. “How FitBit Works.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 2 May 2012, electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/fitness/fitbit.htm.

“A Smarter Way to Run.” Sensoria Fitness, www.sensoriafitness.com/smartsocks/.

Burley, Mikel. Haṭha-Yoga: Its Context, Theory, and Practice. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000.

Feuerstein, Georg. The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice. Hohm Press, 2013.

Whiteman, Honor. “Yoga Can Help to Treat Depression, Studies Show.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 4 Aug. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318774.php#1.

“Pose Finder.” Yoga Journal, 5 Apr. 2017, www.yogajournal.com/pose-finder.

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