News 16 Articles

How to do (and Not Do) Open Source

Our Fall is starting out really great. We've got some new software examples that explore Heart Rate Variability (HRV) up on the Code and Guide page, and a few stories to tell. 

First up: How To Do Open Source

We got a nice pingback from OHS Park and their Staff Pics this week. They picked Ladvien's great post on the trials and tribulations in the making of a Homemade Pulse Sensor. Two weeks ago, he was the Fail of the Week over at Hackaday. Glad to hear that he worked out the kinks in his process! Here at Pulse Sensor, we support open and honest copies and improvements. That's what Open Hardware is all about!

What Open Hardware is NOT about is disingenuous ripoffs and selling what amounts to a bill-of-goods (def. 2). That's what happened to an unwary shopper from Eastern Europe when he...

Getting Started Video

Pulse Sensor Getting Started Guide from yury g on Vimeo.

We are releasing an informative new video today.  It illustrates the best practices for setting up the Pulse Sensor as a Finger Strap or Ear Clip, and thus getting best readings from a user.  For your viewing please, the video is narrated by the voice of Christopher Walken.

Pulse Sensor at TEDx Kids


Tito Jankowski used the Pulse Sensor in a workshop and talk for TEDx Kids in Brussels.   The opening of the above news segment shows lots of kids experimenting and playing with their hearts. Tito's full talk here.

Announcing code version 1.1 ( It's out of beta! )

We are happy to announce an update to our Arduino and Processing example code!

Pulse Sensor Amped Arduino 1.1

Pulse Sensor Amped Processing 1.1

The new Arduino code contains an enhanced beat finding algorithm, and tidies up some inefficiencies since the last version.

We have also put together a detailed walk-through of the Arduino code for your edification.

Announcing..(drum roll please)..Pulse Sensor Amped!


We are announcing a big big upgrade to the Pulse Sensor today, with the release of Pulse Sensor Amped!   

Pulse Sensor Amped adds amplification and noise cancellation circuitry to our original Pulse Sensor hardware.  It's noticeably faster and easier to get reliable pulse readings.  Also, Pulse Sensor Amped works with either a 3Volt and 5Volt Arduino. We've discontinued our previous Pulse Sensor models because this one is so darn good.

Lastly, we've also streamlined and improved the included Processing visualization software and Arduino code. This is our 3rd generation Pulse Sensor, and definitely our sweetest hardware and software creation to date. 

Emotional Response in Entertainment

Some folks in Belfast have created an interactive entertainment platform called Sensum, and it looks really cool ! "Sensum integrates emotional response reporting into any media and is universally compatible with a wide range of platforms and devices." Wow. Catch up on all the biofeedback-in-entertainment news on their tumbler. The company behind Sensum is called Filmtrip, and they are not new to this kind of thing. Here's a project of theirs called Biosuite, and a great article in the New Scientist. They backed our Kickstarter last year (You Rock!) and just made a video to demo Pulse Sensor sending data wirelessly over XBee, a moble app, controlling Xbox Kinect, and fading theatrical lighting over DMX512. Super Duper Cool.


Homage to The Hitchhiker's Guide, via Pulse Sensor and Arduino:


PulseSensor meets Android:

Article in Make Magazine Vol 29, Jan 2012

[youtube] Very nice video here by Becky Stern (of Craft and Make) who made an awesome project for Make Projects (and the below issue) with the Pulse Sensor. -&- Also, the good folks at Make Magazine asked us to write a detailed article about the Pulse Sensor for the first 2012 issue. The "DIY SuperHuman" issue is all about bio-sensing. It's a great volume and worth getting if you are into that kinda thing. If you are reading this you can assume that you into that kinda thing....

Pulse Sensor Now Available at Maker Shed

We are happy to report that our good friends at the Maker Shed are now stocking the Pulse Sensor! So while we anticipate the arrival of the new parts, you can go there to buy one. While supplies last!

Out and About in the World

The Pulse Sensor has been getting out and about in the world.
Two weeks ago we were interviewed for an MTV Brazil show called Mod. It will air in the fall in Brazil, or be available on their website shortly after.  
We were also invited to speak and demo the sensor at the NY MeetUp for Quantified Self. This is a very interesting organization that you should know about if you don't already. is the mothership site. QS has a unique distinction of being a $600 Kickstarter rewards backer. You'll see their name immortalized in the Pulse Sensor code.  
Coming up Tuesday, we...

The Long Blurb, or, Why We Made the Pulse Sensor

Optical heart-rate monitors are easy to understand in theory. If you’ve ever shined a flashlight through your finger tips and seen your heart-beat pulse (a thing most kids have done) you have a good handle on the theory of optical heart-rate pulse sensors.


In an optical heart-rate pulse sensor, light is shot into a finger tip or ear lobe. The light either bounces back to a light sensor, or gets absorbed by blood cells. As you continue to shine light (into say a fingertip) and take light sensor readings, you quickly start to get a heart-beat pulse reading. The theory is easy to understand. In practice, it hard to master DIY optical heart-rate sensors, or get them operational at all. There are many tutorials online and in publications describing how to make DIY heart-rate sensors. Through our own personal interests we’ve tried to follow online guides but have...

Prototypes In Action

I loaned a prototype to one of my former Parsons students who once had a heart beat project but since abandoned it. He will resurect the project and use our Pulse Sensor. Here is a link to his blog about his progress. Resuscitate the Heart Rate (Monitor) 20110807-061947.jpg

Anatomy of The DIY Heart Rate Monitor

There's lots of schematics and guides online that show how to make your own optical heart rate monitor from scratch. With the rise in popularity and accessibility of powerful microcontrollers like Arduino, hackers and designers and DIY enthusiasts are looking for ways to incorporate Bio-sensing and Bio-feedback into their projects, and the optical heart-rate monitor is one direction many folks go toward. Some of the online tutorials are long and complicated, some of them specify exotic parts or require mad soldering skills, all of them are big and clunky and hard to implement in real world conditions where a user is being active, and there are changes in ambient lighting conditions. We want to publish the current state-of-the-DIY-art for getting optically derived heartbeat data into Arduino, and tell you why our Pulse Sensor is such a great improvement. As an example I've put together a very small breadboarded heart rate monitor using parts I have lying around. If you've ever...

Our KickStarter Video!!!

We are starting our Kickstarter campaign today. Watch our video and help us fund the project!  Thanks!


"Pulse Sensor" is a well-designed plug-and-play heart-rate sensor for Arduino. It can be used by students, artists, athletes, makers, and game & mobile developers who want to easily incorporate live heart-rate data into their projects. After a few months of testing a gaggle of techniques, we developed what we think is an innovative pulse sensor. Our prototype (and accompanying code) plugs right into Arduino and easily clips onto a fingertip or earlobe. It's super small too, button-sized with holes, so can be sewn into a garment as well.  We'd like to manufacturer the actual pulse sensor, making it low-cost, and accessible for students, artists, and developers to use in their projects. It also includes software for graphing BPM on screen.  Included software also makes it easy to export live BPM data feed to software (or web app) of  choice.
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