Gaku is a system for Pilates instructors to create personalised video lessons for their students to work on at home. The project was designed and developed during Gravitywell's 2018 annual hackathon.
The concept emerged when we noticed that Pilates (and similar wellness practitioners) were often asked by students for videos of exercises that they could watch and repeat at home, in between classes. Usually instructors did not have their own videos recorded so they would often suggest videos from other instructors on YouTube or even draw stick-figure diagrams on paper! We decided to build a system that would make it easy for instructors to record videos of specific movements which they could then put together as customised video lessons for each of their students to watch on their smartphones.
We started with our own paper sketches of the Instructor desktop app and the Student native mobile app. Further design decisions were made by building clickable prototypes. We selected modern software tools and existing video handling libraries to ensure that development would be fast and flexible.
As Gaku was an entirely new concept, we also needed to produce a brand and marketing website for the system. Real pilates instructors were involved in the process, so we could determine that the name "Gaku" resonated with the target market. It's also short, memorable and doesn't restrict us in the wellness industry. The circling koi carp give an elegant animated flourish to the brand.
Style guides were designed so that developers could continue to deliver new features with UI elements that remained on-brand and appropriate for the users. We also used Google's Material Design as a foundation for the Instructor's app.
Read more about the Gaku design process in our Creativity against a stopwatch article.
The instructor web-app is designed for the busy and mobile lifestyles that pilates instructors tend to have. The interface was stripped back to an absolute minimum. Also, we had to take great care to ensure the users know what is expected of them at every stage and that useful feedback is provided by the app.
The student mobile app is built on React Native, partly because we could work on a shared codebase for both Android and iOS.
We needed a serious tool to do the video transcoding, storage and playback and AWS Media Services was the ideal choice. The backend also made good use of React, Sails and Mongo.
The project also included a requirement for a marketing website to initially draw in pilates instructors, which were our first target group of users.
We built a yoga studio set in our hackathon venue for a series of photo and video shoots. We felt that it was important that users would understand what Gaku was about (instructors record themselves, students watch) just from the imagery alone.
The marketing website was designed as one-pager so the user could absorb everything they needed just by scrolling down through a single page.
We selected Wix for the CMS as it's very quick and gives a reasonable amount of control over layout and styling.
Have a look at the Gaku.app to view the end results or read our other articles and blog posts for much more about the 2018 Hackathon itself.