One of the many fascinating projects displayed at San Fransisco’s Urban Prototyping Festival this year is “Pulse of the City.” Below are excerpts from their website as well as a wonderful article from Nathan Hurst at WIRED:
“The Pulse of the City team incorporated a lot more than one digital element. A heart-shaped sculpture, bigger than a parking meter, made of cardboard and auto body putty, Pulselinked an EKG board to a pair of copper handles to measure the pulse of anyone holding it. Then, with an Arduino, a midi shield, a handful of LEDs, and an XBee radio, it generated a light and music show, and shared pulse information to the web.
‘We programmed an algorithm that takes your heartbeat and makes a unique tempo, drum beat, and melody,’ said George Zisiadis, who created Pulse of the City with Matt Ligon and Rachel McConnell. “It’s the first time people ever have a sense of what they sound like.’
Of course, a portable cardboard structure isn’t quite ready to be a semi-permanent installation on a street corner somewhere. Like all the other projects, Pulse of the City was a prototype. And like the others, it’s open source. ‘We’re not going to travel around the country and install these, but anybody can,’ said Zisiadis, noting that plans for the device would be published on GitHub and Instructables.
In fact, the open-source nature of the projects represents both an opportunity and a risk for their dissemination. While it means that anyone who wishes could follow along and build their own, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will.
‘In terms of spreading, from the outside there’s somewhat of a mentality that open source is kind of magic, and if you put it out there, amazing things happen on their own,’ said Levitas. And while that’s partially true, it still takes outreach to spread the word. Now that the festival is over, GAFFTA plans to meet with each team to discuss how to proceed. Most will begin a crowdfunding campaign of some sort, said Levitas.
‘There’s not really a central node for public design, public technology,’ he said. ‘We hope to become sort of a central resource to that.'” (Nathan Hurst, WIRED)
And from the Pulse of the City UPF site:
“Pulse of the City playfully empowers pedestrians with self-awareness of their heart rates by translating them into unique musical compositions in real-time. It simultaneously streams this heart rate data to the internet for anyone to explore and analyze.
Project by George Zisiadis, Matt Ligon, Rachel McConnell and Rich Trapani.”