YouTube makes it easy to find instructional videos on practically any topic. There are 18,600,000 search results for “how to” on the site at the moment. Obviously not all of them are relevant, but that’s a staggering number. But if you’re trying to learn a physical skill — like dancing, yoga or martial arts — how can you tell if you’re doing the moves correctly?
Kinobi wants to solve this problem by using the Microsoft Kinect device to monitor your activity and give you real-time feedback. You watch a video on your computer and follow along, and Kinobi will let you know if you’re doing it wrong.
Kinobi will sell a selection of instructional videos, filmed in 3D, delivered through a web application. You just need a computer with a modern web browser and a Kinect.
The company was founded by Chapman Snowdan, who started the project while he was a fellow at 4.0 Schools. It began as a tool for training teachers in classroom management. Chapman says he and his team were originally trying to create a solution for video recording teachers and providing feedback after the fact, but they kept hearing from teachers that what they really needed was real time feedback. One day he was standing in line at a department store and some kids playing with a Kinect and realized that he could use it for his project. Later they realized they could apply the system they built to many other skills.
“When I was a kid, I tried everything,” Chapman says. “But as I got older, I tried fewer and fewer thing.” The reason, he says, is that he didn’t want to embarrass himself in public. He wanted more individualized instruction. If you go to a yoga class, you get a one-size-fits-all class. Kinobi will monitor all your moves and give you individualized feedback from the privacy of your own home.
Currently Kinobi only works with major muscle movements, but Chapman’s vision is to eventually be able to capture fine motor movements so that it could be used to teach many professional skills, up to and including surgery.
Q: What, besides yoga, are prime candidates for this? Learning a golf swing seems pretty addressable.
A: Yoga and dance and seem like the biggests immediate opportunities.
Q: Is there a big enough market for something like this, compared to going to a physical place where there are a lot of people who are encouraging you?
A: P90X proves there is a market for people who want to learn at home and in private, but what kinobi is trying to address is the need for a live instructor.
Q: But it’s not really live, it’s pre-recorded?
A: Yes, the instructional content is pre-recorded but the feedback from Kinobi is live.
Q: When people started producing exercise DVDs people were cynical about whether people would exercise at home and they’ve been proven wrong. There’s no question that this is where exercise is going, maybe it’s not going to be you but it’s going to be something more interactive than a dvd. But is it enough to build a platform, or do you need to create something like p90x yourself?
A: Kinobi will make sure to have high quality content, the brand will depend on the quality.
Q: couldn’t you still have a live instructor?
A: You could use this to record a video and give it to an instructor for feedback, but Kinobi keeps you from having to have the instructor live.