Biofeedback Pulse Reading Light Sculpture

The biofeedback light sculpture is an exploration into the relationship of the pulse of our hearts, the biggest electromagnetic center in the body, and the pulse of others. I designed, built and programmed the lighting sculpture.

There is two pulse reader’s attached to two peoples’ thumbs. One reading a heart beat, one pulse reader creates a wave of green ripple outward over the sculpture and the other pulse reader creates a wave of red. When the waves of color intersect because the pulses are aligning the colors combine to create a brighter white/yellow color.

ClientPersonal ProjectServicesIdeation, Design, Fabrication, Visualization AlgorithmYear2015

Background

In my studies of Chinese medicine I have found much insight into it’s wholistic view of the body and the varied diagnostic measures. In particular the pulse, is one of the most important ways to understand what is going on within the person physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Ideation

From the start I knew I wanted to explore using biofeedback and environmental lighting to alter the relationship between two people. After exploring the capabilities of different devices and the budget I decided on using readily available pulse reading hardware, individually addressable LEDs and an Arduino micro-controller.

Pulse Visualizations

I experimented with different shapes using paper drawings and scale models until coming to the drop of water hitting a pool. It matches with the concept of the pulse being described as water.

Environment filled with open minds

The installation made it’s first debut at a festival with thousands of people with people exploring different environments and art installations 24/7 for four days.

How can relationships be harmonized by visualizing hidden biological processes?

Create tools to facilitate change in behavior, then observe

I tried to limit how much disclosure I gave to visitors in how it works and what it shows. My standard guidance sounded like, “Its a light sculpture that visualizes two pulses interacting”.

Watching people intuitively understand how to use the visualizations to bring their pulses in sync was interesting. Many people found it fun to see their pulses visualized in a way that changed the environment. Each pulse wave lit the entire space with its color.

Visualizing the harmony in couples

The most entertaining pair to watch is a couple. Couples come with an extended shared history spanning the ups and downs and have their emotions entwined with each other.

When a couple in a positive relationship would walk in and put on the pulse readers the entire area would be awash in a bright yellow light pulsing to their matching hearts.

Change the body to change the mind

When couples in a difficult period of time put on the pulse readers the environment would change to a strobing sensation of alternating waves of green and red displaying their discord prominently.

It was fascinating to see couples intuitively use the visuals to consciously and sometimes unconsciously bring their pulses in sync. Many couples left the experience hand in hand with a firm grip and smiles across their faces.

Couples in positive relationships were in sync emotionally and physically.