Eszter Ozsvald – creator of personalized yoga app Yoganotch
Eszter Ozsvald is the technical founder of Yoganotch (yoganotch.com), an innovative tech company offering yoga practitioners a personal yoga assistant by providing live personalized advice. The app she spearheaded provides real-time feedback on yoga poses and also allows access to classes taught by professional teachers. It all began for her in the pool when she was developing into a competitive swimmer.
In a Q&A Eszter shares her passion for sport and technology.
Q: What was the hook to get you into competitive swimming?
My parents told me if I learn to float I will get a Nintendo. So in the summer of 1990, I and my older brother spent countless hours trying to teach me how to swim. In the end, we earned Nintendo. When my first school year started in September, my mom proudly signed me up for swimming classes. Years passed, Nintendo got out of fashion, but I could still float and even compete in it.
Q: How was your interest in sport and technology developed?
After getting my undergraduate degree in mechatronics I joined a biomechanics lab whose mission was to explore and model fish locomotion. That was the first time when I started learning about biomechanics, took courses on designing humanoid robotics, and for my final degree, I created a rubber-based robotic fish that would swim like a real fish. Fast-forward five years, after finishing my grad degree at NYU, I founded Notch Interfaces with Stepan, one of my classmates. Today Wearnotch serves as a platform for developers, researchers and entrepreneurs to understand and analyze human motion, and build products and apps to either help improve health-related (e.g. gait analysis in Parkinson’s) or sports-specific physical fitness (e.g. golf coaching tool).
Q: Tell us your role with Yoganotch?
I am the technical founder of Notch, but I am a designer by heart. In the early days, when we started building out the motion capture platform, besides leading the tech team, I was designing everything that had to be manufactured, starting from the hardware, the Notch devices, the wearables, the package, and even the production line in China.
We have been working on the Yoganotch app and the yoga engine for several years now. Today my main responsibility is the modeling of yoga poses, creating the App experience, telling the journey of personal progress, while making sure the App really does feel like a yoga companion.
Q: How does Yoganotch help today’s athlete or sports-minded individual?
The Notch devices are an instrument to measure human motion, in a form of 3D joint angles. This is a very rich datapoint, 3d motion data has been used by elite athletes for a long time now, but it is the first time when commercially available for a wide audience. Yoganotch app interprets the joint angle data, reconstructs the wearer’s skeleton and matches her posture to asana models defined in our database. That is how we can detect and correct the flaws in your alignment. Because it’s machine intelligence-driven, it is very consistent and honest, and that’s a key point to learning. When you do something incorrectly – it corrects you. When you improve your posture, it reinforces; your posture is now better.
Q: What are the benefits and is it for everyone?
I remember the first time I went to a yoga class, I thought I (was) so good at this pose until the teacher came to me and told me to turn my hips just a bit, and it made all (the) difference! I’ve been doing yoga for several years now, but now I know it’s not a goal, but a journey.
We are designing Yoganotch with the same principles in mind. For beginners, our goal is to have them become familiar with yoga cues and the associated body actions, and how to set up a strong foundation. Our classes are designed for different skill levels, beginners go through simpler yoga poses, with a slower transition. For yogis with more experience, it’s still very beneficial to have an attentive eye and guide, especially in more complex poses when it is just impossible to do a self-check.
Q: With more virtual online classes, how will your product impact the class?
Today’s virtual classes run on a schedule, with an instructor streaming her practice (or using existing footage) while talking to her audience. Yoganotch app comes with classes preloaded, designed by world-class instructors. Yet the main difference is the interactivity, the continuous feedback you receive during your practice.