Biometric Campfire

Biometric Campfire explores the precursors for group creative expression.  Biometric Campfire helps answer the following – What measure of our creativity comes from the physiological processes that precede our generation of opinion?


  • Each participant can see their own heartbeat in the “campfire”
  • Incorporates haptic biometric feedback in the burgundy “campfire” chairs
  • Electric light pillar “campfire” shows individual and collective heart rate variability
  • Participants see, and hear, their own heartbeats in relation to the heartbeats of others
  • Participants viscerally feel their own heartbeats, via two tactile transducers, in each chair
  • The electric light pillar “campfire” pulses and glows in relation to the participants’ heartbeats
  • Heartbeats, sensed via conductive hand-rests, are measured via Electrocardiographic methods
  • Participants collectively compose and generate a musical expression driven by their physiology


Seating: 1 – 6 participants
Power: 120 VAC at 2 amps
Safety: adheres to IEC60601-1
Dimensions: 15 foot diameter circle, 60” high
Setup: indoors or outdoors, nighttime or daytime
Design: comprehensive analog electronics implementation – extremely low latency and jitter
Usage: no training required, participant simply sits in campfire chair, and places hands on rests


The Biometric Campfire art project explores the idea of human nervous system expression in a group setting. Participants sit around a deconstructed “campfire” where measured electricity, sourced from each individual’s heart, is amplified, conditioned and presented as visuals, soundtrack and haptic (touch) impulses.

The Biometric Campfire art project operates via the principle of differential biopotential signal amplification. The participants place their hands on the campfire chairs’ domed silver surfaces and the detected electrical signals are amplified approximately 30,000 times. The detected signals are the participants’ Lead I electrocardiograms. This Lead is a standard measure during a typical medical electrocardiograph (ECG) recording. The amplified ECGs are directed to haptic (tactile) transducers within the chairs, surrounding speakers and illuminating light sources constituting the “campfire”. The visceral environment generated by the Biometric Campfire art project is fully determined by the participants’ measured ECGs.

The visual nexus of the Biometric Campfire art project is the “campfire” light pillar. The light pillar visually reflects the strength and timing of each participant’s heartbeat. Additionally, a central light in the pillar responds to the sum of all the individual’s heartbeats. The pillar’s collective light intensity and pulsation varies as a function of the timing and amplitude relationships of the driving heartbeats (ECGs) of the participants. As participants’ ECGs move through periods of synchronization, and as their strengths vary in relation to the breath, the light pillar “campfire” visuals follows suit. Simultaneously, participants will feel the mechanical impulse of their own heartbeats reflected in their campfire chair, via the haptic transducers. Each participant will experience the tactile sensation of feeling their own heartbeats, reflected through the frame of the campfire chair, while seeing the corresponding visuals of their heartbeats, and others, in the “campfire”. Simultaneously, participants also create a musical composition that’s sourced from each individual’s physiology. An instrument sampled tone is produced with the advent of each participant’s heartbeat. The soundtrack expression becomes a language for the combined physiology of the assembled group.

The Biometric Campfire art project electronics sensing, amplification and transducer design signal flow is implemented via analog electronics. There is no data transmission time-buffering employed, so signal latency and jitter are at the extremely low levels afforded by direct analog design. Group physiological metrics are measured, transformed, and then re-introduced as visual and tactile stimuli to the group participants.

Manner of Relevance – Perception and Judgement

The Biometric Campfire art project employs advanced biometric technology to allow the subtle signals generated by the human heart to become observable in a group setting. The heart’s behavior is influenced by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic stimulation speeds up the heart and parasympathetic stimulation slows it down. The heart’s behavior is a reflection of processes that moderate our bodies, brains, thoughts and actions.

The nature of perception is that sensory data begins to arrive at the awareness of the brain in approximately 100ms. This data is still exogenous, meaning it’s before thought and is subject to the physics of sensory perception, filtering and translation. Once the sensory data is absorbed by the brain, it’s now endogenous, and then there is a steady layering of consideration from 100ms to 600ms. Between 100ms and 600ms, after the data passes the exogenous/endogenous boundary, the sensory data routing through the brain activates memory and other forms of information flow networks subject to previous experience and developed structural frameworks. These later, endogenous, elements ultimately allow for the establishment of human judgement. It takes a person at least 600ms to “make up their mind”. Prior to judgement, when the sensory data is processed in the endogenous phase, the layering of consideration activates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, preparing the individual for what might happen.

The Biometric Campfire art project allows group exploration of this endogenous time period, that being “prior to judgement”, and gives a voice and a language to this personal and shared human quality.



Biometric Campfire at Maker Faire, 2018

Biometric Campfire

Biometric Campfire

Biometric Campfire