For the past 20 years, 33-year-old Raksha Rao has been learning and practicing the Carnatic voice and even ran a music school in the United States with 50 students. But this Bengaluru mother now runs Parjanya Creative Solutions, the company behind Prayoga, an app that uses augmented reality (AR) and body-tracking technology to help users learn Yoga.
The idea to develop Prayoga came from the personal experience of Rao and her husband using Yoga applications. “When you go to a coach or a gym, what they try to do is, they will give you a series of exercises and you will have to perform in front of them. They come and correct you if the form is wrong. That part was really missing in terms of all these applications, ”says Rao. NEWS BLOCK.com.
Rao was clear from the start that the Prayoga app would give some kind of feedback, mimicking how an instructor corrects people as if they were attending an in-person session at a Yoga studio. The solution to the problem was augmented reality, a technology that can superimpose a computer-generated image on your view of the real world. With the help of ARKit and body tracking, Rao’s team thought of bringing an instructor into their living room as a 3D render. All you need is your iPhone and you can learn yoga asanas and correct them as you perform. The app also offers well-produced how-to videos.
“We wanted to combine our areas of passion with technology and try to create an innovative product in this,” she says, adding that her husband’s experience in AR and VR helped: He used to work in a Hollywood studio in Los Angeles.
Rao, an MBA in Information Science from California State University and an engineer who moved back to India in 2019 with her husband, says that the development of the app has been done entirely in-house. She and her husband mainly work on the development side along with the product strategy. Currently, Rao’s team has 10 people, a mix of employees and full-time interns, most of them women.
It’s been almost a year since the Prayoga app hit the App Store, and Rao and his team are already working on the second version. “Our goal with this app was to make yoga a lifestyle and not a fitness fad or anything like that,” he says. The existing version of Prayoga has been well received, garnering over 100,000 impressions on the App Store when the app originally debuted in June of last year.
Based on feedback the app has received, the second version will include up to 75 asanas, created by yoga experts. The application also has a customizable option where you can choose a specific time and perform yoga asanas according to your needs. There is also a new option to mirror the app on your TV and see the instructor doing the action on the big screen.
But Rao is not done yet. Being someone who learned and practiced Carnatic classical vocal music for years, he wants to bring this ancient art form to the masses using immersive technologies like AR and VR. “We are trying to bring a product to help us do that,” says Rao, who is about to complete his masters in carnatic music from Jain University.