So How Does This Thing Work?
I have an inquiring mind, and when I use things, I like to know why they work the way they do. Something about understanding the “behind the scenes” helps me to get more out of the experience and helps me to know how best I can utilize a new item. So, when SmartMat, the first intelligent Yoga mat, came across my path, I needed to know more.
What’s in this mat that’s makes it YogaTech? How does it communicate to my other smart devices?
When I first heard of SmartMat, my over-active (and old-fashioned) imagination pictured myself standing on a Yoga mat hooked up to a bunch of wires taking EKG readings and such. (Clearly an outdated reaction, but nanotechnology still seems like a modern day miracle to me!)
In reality, SmartMat’s hardware is so streamlined it goes practically unnoticed. On the outside, SmartMat will be made of similar materials and thickness to a standard Yoga mat. It can be rolled up, and is easily portable. But on the inside, there will be an extensive network of pressure sensors that process and send a heatmap of wherever you’ve place your hands, feet, or other grounding parts in your pose. Via Bluetooth technology, the mat will send this data electronically to your Smart Device (your phone or tablet) and show you exactly how you’re aligning in your posture in the moment. No wires. Not even a need for internet. Cool.
This system of inner sensors has also been designed to be heat resistant up to 110 degrees so the mat can be easily used even in a hot Yoga class setting. And you don’t have to plug the mat in anywhere while you practice. It has a battery that stays charged for up to 6 hours.
The only somewhat “techie” looking thing on the mat is a low profile device that attaches to the front with a series of eletrostatic magnets (similar to the charger cable on a Mac laptop). This piece also doubles as a phone/tablet stand during your practice.
All in all, pretty straight forward, even for a techno-challenged individual like myself!
But I still have more questions.
How does a mat recognize my body and give me feedback customized to my practice?
In order for SmartMat to know “me” it has to get synched up to my specific measurements and needs. This process is called calibration.
To activate your SmartMat, you too will have to go through a calibration process. It’s quite simple, really. First, you’re prompted to enter some basic information about yourself like height, weight, gender, and age. Next, you’ll lie down on your mat so SmartMat can measure the ratio and length of your torso, arms, and legs. It needs this information to give you the most accurate postural feedback according to your body. Finally, it’ll take you through a series of template poses where it will negotiate with you to find your “Perfect Pose.” The information it collects during these template poses will be the baseline for recommendations during your practice sessions.
When I practice, how will the feedback SmartMat picks up be delivered to me?
Once SmartMat analyzes the feedback it’s receiving, it will deliver it to me in three easily understandable phases on the screen of my Smart Device:
Phase 1: Alignment – in the initial alignment phase, SmartMat will determine if my hands, feet, and other body parts are in correct placement on the mat. When this is done, I get moved to Phase 2.
Phase 2: Balance – After alignment has been established, SmartMat “zooms in” for minute balance corrections. To determine “correct balance”, SmartMat refers back to my template pose baseline readings for each asana, and combines this with what it’s learned about my progress and offers me corrections.
Phase 3: Perfect Pose – Once I’ve refined my balance, I get moved to the “Perfect Pose” phase – a term relative to my optimal alignment. In this phase, I am invited to hold the pose, focus on my breathing, and perhaps fine-tune my pose through other actions such as engaging the pelvic floor.
How does SmartMat evolve with me?
Every time I get on my SmartMat, it gets more data points on me. It essentially records a history of how I execute my practice and learns how to guide me to my next edge.
After I practice, I get a score of how closely I came to aligning in my “Perfect Pose” – the optimal postures for me according to my measurements. If it sees I’m advancing quicker and easier through certain postures, it then knows to cue me to more advanced forms of the sequence. Essentially, it tracks my practice from the inside out with completely customized precision. This level of specificity is going to really help me stay right on the edge of my potential and not slack off or try to hide in the back of the class away from the teacher’s eyes. Things just got a lot more real.
And there you have it. A little of the “how to” to put your curious mind at ease. Have more questions? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you. Or feel free to check out the FAQs page here.