Posted by lemonjelly on:
Earth Day is this weekend and the festivities will be centered at Alameda Park.
One very cool item that will be available is the Heartbeat Amplifier. It was developed several years ago as an art project by Hitch McDermid and Alan Macy, two people I'm proud to have as friends. It's been to numerous festivals, including Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle, and I've had the good fortune of playing around with the Heartbeat Amplifier at private events as well.
So what is it? In less technical terms, the Heartbeat Amplifier measures your heartbeat, which is then translated into other sensory forms, like sound, sight, and touch.
The participant (will it be you?) sits in a comfortable chair and rests hands on two metal plates. The metal plates sense your heartbeat, which projects into a blinking light overhead, a thumping sound from speakers, and the chair will pulse, the effects become more pronounced as the Amplifier reads you better. Take a deep breath and feel the beats slow down. Put your arms around a friend, each of you touching one of the metal plates and your heartbeats will eventually start synchronizing.
Pictured above is the HBA prototype barebones, without the fancy soft chair, embedded speakers and ethereal lighting.
The HBA puts you in touch with your body, and you are also letting others around you connect with you. It can be a meditative experience, if you're not too distracted by goings-on nearby. Below is a photo of the HBA's installation at 2011's Lightning in a Bottle music and art festival, with three heartbeat stations.
The Heartbeat Amplifier will be at this weekend's Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park, on the western block of the Park, in the section called the Open Play Space, just south of the gazebo. Who knows what the setup will be? I hear this version will be totally solar powered.
Download the PDF of the entire Earth Day Festival guide here.