New Technology Helps Blind Students

A new free software program offers instruction for basic yoga poses to people with vision impairment.
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Learning the correct alignment of yoga posture is challenging even if you have the ability to closely watch someone demonstrate good form. But for people who are visually impaired, it can be even more difficult.

This is why computer scientists at the University of Washington recently created Eyes-Free Yoga, software that utilizes the video game system Microsoft Kinect to provide feedback on alignment in six simple yoga poses such as Virabhadrasana I and 2 (Warrior 1 and 2), Vrksasana (Tree Pose), and Utkatasana (Chair Pose).

“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 UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering, in a statement.

The software works with the cameras and motion sensors to determine if a yoga student’s alignment is correct or needs adjusting. It offers verbal adjustments if necessary or, if the pose is correct, gives praise.

Rector and her team worked with yoga teachers to make sure the technology gave proper cues, but the researchers acknowledged that their software won’t replace the eye of a skilled teacher for more complicated poses.

The creators plan to make Eyes-Free Yoga available for public download so that anyone with a Kinect and a computer can try it out.