[Week7_One to Many] “Biophilia” (Heart Rate Visualizer)

Keywords: Biophilia, nature, Wearable Device, Physical Computing, Arduino, Pulse sensor, Sensor


“I am studying Biophilia because I want to find out if biophilic psychology and art style can be utilized for human-computer interaction design that enhances people’s quality of lives in order to figure out people’s preference for shapes of nature in visual communication and empathy with nature would give people healing moments .”



Biophilia hypothesis, an idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with means the passionate love of living system (all that is alive) and life. So, for designing my wearable heart rate tracker, I wanted to visualize the life of a tree as a symbol of nature and the life of human nature. My precedence for the processing visualization includes Ernst Haeckel, a pioneer of biophilic art. His drawing style based on researches on organism inspired my shape of “a breath of tree.” That kinds of shapes and styles also can be found in a photographer Christopher Marley‘s artworks. So, my visualization can belong to the category of biophilic art itself.

The reason I decided to use a concept of “a heart” for the entire project comes from the famous psychoanalyst Erich Fromm‘s book The Heart of Man (1964). Erich Fromm mentioned the term “biophilia” in his book “Human Destructiveness (1973)” for the first time in his book and the concept of biophilia in his theory is in line with the empathy with nature. So, I came up with the idea to connect human’s heart to nature’s heart visually. Fromm said that human nature have a strong needs to unity with nature because of a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.

Demo video

“Feel your life (heart beat) with nature (tree)”

I created this wearable band that tracks your heart beat by using arduino pulse sensor and a processing visualization of nature. You can feel your life with the breath of nature. Biophilia literally means “love of living system or life” and the biophilia hypothesis is in line with human’s basic need for a unity with nature. In our busy daily life, people sometimes forget their heart is lively beating. Besides, to check their daily health condition seems to be a hassle and boring job. Checking your own pulse is a good way to keep track of your heart rat. Monitoring it while you’re resting is the best way to get an accurate reading, as rhythm can increase at different time during the day, especially when you’re exercising.

A design brief of this project

Design Brief of Heart Rate Visualizer – “Biophilia” (PDF)

Technology [Code for Arduino / Processing]

 I’ve always wondered how to check a pulse. From this project, I could learn the mechanism to check pulses by using a sensor. By using an Arduino pulse sensor, it was possible to check people’s radial pulse on their wrist or on your neck. I connected Arduino to Processing to visualize the heart beats via serial communication. I think I can develop my wearable band to measure the exact heart rates to count the number of beats per minute. A normal resting heart rate for an adult should be around 60 to 100 beats per minute.


Author: Jiyeon Kang (Jenny)

MFA Student of Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design dreamealist@gmail.com

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