Pulse is an experience that we showcased first during the 2019 edition of the CES. With Pulse we wanted provide a moment where users can reflect not only on their heart rate, but also on the heart rates of those around, while retaining complete agency. We indeed brought back more control in the hands of the users; quite literally: thanks to ECG electrodes embedded in the spheres, the physiological measures only occur when users decide to grasp the device. Pulse involves three components. 1. The “planet”, that illuminates when users put their hands on it, starting to, you get it, pulse through light and vibration at the same pace of the heart rate. 2. The central “hub”, that gathers the heart rates of all users (up to four in current version), and that changes color accordingly to the synchronization it detects among them. 3. Finally the cable, also called… actually we don’t have yet a good name for it, but nonetheless it does more than conveying electrical signals and information: you can observe pulses of lights that accompany each heartbeat from the planets to the hub. Beyond pleasing the eye, that the cable explicitly conveys signals is also a way to remind users about what is going on behind the curtain.
Pulse was conceived in collaboration with the Potioc team at Inria; in particular Thibault Lainé and Joan Sol Roo, who worked on the very first proof of concept (sensors + the… cable). Current design would not be complete without the craft of Alexis Gay from GayA concept, who carefully transformed white blobs in shiny planets and helped to refine the user experience.
Due to its modular nature and “hands-on” approach, Pulse shares similarities with our Coral. More than what meets the eye at first: thanks to analog output here as well we can connect the hub to other gear. As such we built for the CES a device that converts analog signals to the MIDI protocol; a device (yet to have its own page) that in turns we connected to a sequencer and synthesizer, the teenage engineering OP-Z. As a result: a soundtrack that speeds up or down depending on the group average heart-rate, and notes and chimes triggered by each heart beat. Space does sound at times.
Because light, vibration and music was not enough, Pulse’s hub can also act as a (Bluetooth) sensor to connect the group to our Cosmos, to create an even more engaging experience. By merging these different moralities and projects, we are building a whole universe that revolves around participants.