Joe Chamdani, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, TuringSense
We sat down with Joe Chamdani, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of TuringSense, to talk COVID-19, yoga, and AI. Silicon Valley-based TuringSense, working with Yoga teachers, recently developed online platform PIVOT Yoga Teacher to meet at-home workouts demand.
Describe what your company does in 256 characters (a Tweet’s length)
We’re in the business of teaching the world to move. With PIVOT Yoga, we build ways for yogis to get and for teachers to give, with more instant feedback on students’ form. TuringSense’s products help students learn faster and teachers teach better. (236ch)
How did you get involved in this industry?
Personally, I’ve always been really interested in form. As a competitive junior and collegiate tennis player, I know that if you hit a ball with good mechanics, it feels effortless. Getting that feeling is what makes me enjoy playing tennis to this day. And as a father I’ve spent more money than I’d like to admit on tennis lessons for my kids!
When we saw the opportunities in our core motion capture AI technology to improve people’s movements, particularly just from wearing our easy-to-use special clothes, it was clear to me that this was a breakthrough. People can only practice in front of a mirror, or a computer screen, for so long without needing real feedback.
What made you think of the idea/what inspired you to create your technology?
Yoga is loved by millions, yet most yogis practicing from home don’t have an easy way to get the feedback that’s needed to improve. So, we developed PIVOT Yoga which uses our special, sensorized yoga clothes to help understand a yogi’s 3D body position in real time. At first, our clothes with our app for on demand classes, and now, we’ve built online classes that interface with the clothes in real time.
Along the way, we noticed that the tools that are out there for yoga teachers to manage their classes do absolutely nothing to help teachers become better teachers. So that’s how PIVOT Yoga Teacher, an all-in-one platform that combines innovative 3D livestreaming, live video annotation, and powerful practice management tools, was born.
How is this going to benefit people/society?
A lot of people are now working out and practicing yoga from home and that will continue beyond the pandemic. The problem that PIVOT Yoga Teacher solves is that it enables teachers to give feedback to students on their poses instantly like they do with in-person classes – and maybe even better because of PIVOT Yoga technology – that has never before been possible. That’s going to make for better teaching.
Students will benefit from an exciting live yoga class that offers unprecedented levels of personal attention from the teacher. The days of just going with the flow in an online yoga class with no feedback from the teacher are over.
What’s innovative about your company and technology?
We’ve already been issued five patents and have a significant patent portfolio. But to narrow it down to PIVOT Yoga Teacher in particular, the most notable innovations are:
3D Pose Analysis. The teacher can see any side of a student’s pose, if they’re wearing our PIVOT Yoga clothes.
Highlights Capture & Display. The teacher can capture a teachable moment from the class and share it with students at the end of the class or even after class by email.
Live Video Annotation. To date, live video annotation has never been available in integrated form inside a tool built for yoga teachers. A teacher can draw on a student’s live video to illustrate teaching points.
Class Archiving. Everything that happens with respect to a class – before during, and even after – gets archived in one place for the teacher on the Class page. That means, that highlights which the teacher took during class are stored permanently, as well as student satisfaction, student engagement, ticket sales and even moments of encouragement from the teacher to individual students.
Student Performance Tracking. Yoga has never before had a way to truly track a student’s progress. But for students wearing our clothes, we can compare their pose to reference poses and track how closely they’re matching them, and how each pose is changing over time.
How, in your opinion, has your industry changed in the past five years?
The trend toward exercise at home has been a long trend, but the pandemic has accelerated it greatly. There have been many attempts at giving feedback to students but to date those technologies have been hard to use, expensive, or inaccurate. Or all three!
What has COVID done to your company/industry? Has it been affected? Does your solution assist with the pandemic?
COVID has affected us in multiple ways. First, the acceleration in the demand for at-home workouts has validated the whole industry. But it’s also highlighted the value we provide – in particular, because we are uniquely focused on making the actual experience of teaching and learning yoga better. We’re also proud that our product makes for a richer, community-oriented experience for both teacher and student. It’s hard to build community unless everybody is paying attention to each other in a class, and we make that a lot easier.
Describe the future of your industry. What does the future hold? What is society going to look like?
We think feedback is the way of the future. There are technologies coming online – from Augmented Reality on down – that will enable us to refine and extend feedback even further. I think ultimately, it’s going to be a lot easier for everyday people to learn form and movement, and to learn them from home.
What plans do you have coming up?
We have a number of refinements in store for PIVOT Yoga Teacher and also for our PIVOT Yoga clothes. We’re constantly making our products easier to use, more accurate, and more powerful. Longer term, we’ll extend to other human movement activities, like fitness, tennis, golf, gaming, and even physical therapy.
What would your advice be for people trying to get into your industry?
Some base of technical knowledge is really handy. I’ve got an EE/CS background myself and our company is full of PhDs and professionals with master’s degrees in the sciences. Even if you can’t get a postgraduate degree, you fundamentally have to be comfortable with the issues that come with working on cutting-edge technology, where trial and error is the norm. Nothing comes easy, and if our products look easy, that’s a great compliment. Because making them sure isn’t!
A serial entrepreneur, Joe Chamdani has co-founded not one but two companies with successful exits and raised over $80 million in venture capital. Joe got his BS at Washington University St. Louis. His PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering is from Georgia Tech.