“Pulse of the City” Plays Songs to the Rhythm of your Heartbeat


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.

The project is designed with maximum scalability in mind. Each pulse monitoring station is simply and cheaply built and anyone can add to the network of pulse monitors across the city, the country, or even the world.
By truly understanding the literal pulse of our cities for the first time ever, we hope to inspire a broader sense of civic community and humbly facilitate a constructive dialogue on how to design the healthier and more livable cities of the future.

Project by George Zisiadis, Matt Ligon, Rachel McConnell and Rich Trapani.”

Source, Image Source 1: Pulse of the City: Urban Prototyping Festival 2012

Image Source 2: Nathan Hurst, WIRED magazine


PLUS Model Magazine Reveals Models Meet BMI Criteria for Anorexia

Beware of false statistics. Or statistics from Canada.

An article in PLUS Model Magazine claims that most models have a body-mass index (BMI) of under 18.5, meeting the standards for anorexia.  Whereas in the 1990s female models weighed only 8% less than the average woman, today they weigh 23% less.

PLUS chalks this up to an increase in anorexic models and unhealthy body image, but I only half agree.  Yes, many itty bitty models grace the pages of women’s beauty magazines and men’s magazines–but I don’t know many men (or women) that find that sort of thing attractive to begin with.  Furthermore, PLUS declines to acknowledge that as an average, Americans are just…fatter.  Think about all the things that come into play:

1. Our tough economy makes people buy cheaper foods, which are usually (if not always) worse for our bodies.  Take the McDonald’s dollar menu for example. Organic foods and fruits and vegetables are always more expensive.  Cutting costs means cutting nutrition.

2. The FDC is way more lax today than they have ever been (at least since Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” in 1906).  If you haven’t seen “Food, Inc.” you need to watch it asap!  Between food companies (Monsanto is mentioned) suing America’s farmers into debt and poverty, the lack of regulation on new drugs, food, and sanitation, and corruption in our meat markets, who the f knows what kinds of things we’re consuming and what they are doing to our bodies.  Do it-watch Food Inc. I swear it’s not boring.

3. As quoted from the center of disease control and prevention:

“During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-six states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of 30% or more.”

Hmmm…wasn’t 20 years just the same figure used in PLUS?  Sounds to me like the 23% decrease in model’s weights doesn’t mean anything at all when you take the obesity factors into account.

The moral of the story: Be happy with your body, but be healthy too.  Don’t just accept your unhealthy weight because a magazine tells you it’s okay–bad body influence works both ways.  And, chill out ladies, there are more important issues in the world than how you look in skinny jeans compared to Gisele Bundchen.

In three words: Moderation is key.

Also: Beware of false facts. Where do these percentages even come from? Canada…no comment. 😉

Link to PLUS Model Magazine

Link to CDC government obesity facts

Link to Model Mayhem