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Interactive Yoga Class For The Blind Uses Microsoft Kinect

Update Date: Oct 19, 2013 02:27 PM EDT

A new yoga class software program for Microsoft Kinect has been created for people who are blind or have low vision. 

"My hope for this technology is for people who are blind or low-vision to be able to try it out, and help give a basic understanding of yoga in a more comfortable setting," said project lead Kyle Rector, a University of Washington doctoral student in computer science and engineering according to UW.

Eyes-Free Yoga was invented by Rector. The exercise program uses the console to track body movements in order to provide the user with instructions and corrections for six yoga positions.

"Rector wrote programming code that instructs the Kinect to read a user's body angles, then gives verbal feedback on how to adjust his or her arms, legs, neck or back to complete the pose," said UW. "For example, the program might say: "Rotate your shoulders left," or "Lean sideways toward your left."
For creator Rector, she worked with yoga instructors perfecting the right direction for each of the poses. 

The order in which Kinect detects a person's ability to do the pose correctly is by first checking their core, then their head and neck position and lastly their arms and legs, all while suggesting the proper way to position the body.

"Each of the six poses has about 30 different commands for improvement based on a dozen rules deemed essential for each yoga position," said UW. 
With feedback an essential part for listening during the exercise program Rector believed she too needed feedback on her yoga program.

She had 16 people blind and low vision people test her interactive program. She said almost everyone said they would use it again and 13 out of 16 said they would recommend it to someone else.

Rector and her colleagues, Julie Kientz, a UW assistant professor in Human Centered Design & Engineering and Cynthia Bennett, a research assistant in computer science and engineering plan to make this program available online so users can participate with their Kinects.

"I see this as a good way of helping people who may not know much about yoga to try something on their own and feel comfortable and confident doing it," said Kientz. "We hope this acts as a gateway to encouraging people with visual impairments to try exercise on a broader scale."

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