Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a program that allows the visually-impaired to practice yoga at home without the need for a live instructor.
Eyes-Free Yoga is a program that uses the Microsoft Kinect software to track the user’s body movements and angles and provide auditory feedback on how to perform the yoga poses properly. The program was developed by project lead Kyle Rector and her collaborators Cynthia Bennett and Julie Kientz.
The program is able to provide feedback on six yoga poses, including the Warrior I and II, Tree and Chair poses. Rector wrote the programming code that tells the Kinect how to read the user’s body angles and give auditory feedback on how to adjust his or her back, arms, legs, and neck to get the poses right. The program is able to give positive feedback like “Your arms are good” or “Your core is good” to let the users know what they’re doing correctly and also give instructions like “Lean forward” or “Straighten your left arm” to correct the their pose.
Rector worked with several yoga instructors and practiced yoga herself to develop the program. She also tested the program with 16 blind and low-vision people who provided their own feedback.
Rector and her collaborators published their project in the conference proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility in Bellevue, Washington.
The team sees Eyes-Free Yoga as a way for blind or low-vision people to be able to try something new and practice yoga comfortably. The project team is planning to make the program available online.
Watch the video below to see how Eyes-Free Yoga works.