by Matty Sallin and Greg Trefry
WHAT: A biofeedback lamp that detects and “echos” your own heartbeat in realtime. Just place your hands on either side of the lamp base and wait for it to detect your pulse, then watch as it throbs to match your heartbeat. The light is hypnotic, and you can actually watch your pulse slow down by focusing on the light and relaxing.
WHY: We wanted to take an unconscious aspect of our body and amplify it so that it was visible and even controllable. For something which is usually unnoticed and very private, it is a unique experience to share your heartbeat with whoever else is in the room.
HOW: We used a circuit board for an OEM heart rate monitor designed to be integrated with exercise equipment. When a user makes hand contact with the conductive metal attached to the circuit board, the electrical impulse of their heart muscle contraction is detected and amplified by the circuit board, and a digital 5V square pulse is sent to our PIC microchip. The PIC chip in turn sends a series of MIDI commands to a MIDI-controlled light board, which powers the lamp bulbs.