The idea for a musical yoga mat came about when I thought about my own yoga practice and how difficult it is to sync movement with yoga. In LA, teachers are known for their playlist and yoga classes with music often draw lots of students.
I wanted the switch to activate based on pressure sensitivity. Pushing your palm into the mat would activate the switch, but lightly touching your fingers would not. The switches are placed by the hands and feet. This placement is versatile for a number of yoga poses but I specifically placed them there for the sun salutation series, a common series in the yoga tradition. The switches consist of velostat sandwiched between two pieces of conductive fabric which are not in contact with each other. The most interesting thing for me is that the velostat acts as a resistor and registers the amount of pressure. There is one lead attached to each piece of conductive thread which then connects to the Arduino i.e. 2 leads per switch. This switch is powered by the Arduino board but can be powered by another battery pack.
On the bread board is a sound board which plays .ogg and .wave files. It’s capable of playing small sound bites. It’s great because it’s easy to transfer files, no coding required, just like transferring music onto an mp3. Each switch has an associated switch.
The challenge was definitely in the coding. At first, I thought I’d be coding for an analog switch but once I clarified that I just wanted an on/off switch, I realized that coding for a digital switch would be more effective. But the switch is still analog.
The tricky part was calibrating the switches for the right amount of pressure. I had done all the work without the yoga mat but then realized that the yoga mat itself added another layer of pressure so I had to recalibrate.
For the future, I’d like to play around with a board that allows two switches to play simultaneously.