BioBeats Controls Music with Heartbeats Because Its Co-Founder Almost Died

Posted March 7

BioBeats will turn your heartbeat into sound on the iPhone, so you can calm down. Seriously. The ultimate goal of this technology, as you can tell from the below video (assuming you have nearly ten minutes to spare), is to reduce the sort of stress that caused co-founder David Plan’s heart to stop at the airport one time, earning him a toe tag, which he displays in the above video. It’s heavy stuff, and one heck of a founders’ story.

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A mockup of a BioBeats app taken from the video

A good story is not enough, but this technology captures your heartbeat in an ingenious way: All you have to do is hold your finger over your iPhone’s camera (Android version coming “soon”), and the app detects the variation in light passing through your finger as blood courses through your veins, and with that, your heartbeat. The BioBeats platform can use that for all sorts of neat stuff.

One BioBeats app has been released so far, for iOS — a somewhat cheesy collaboration with hip-pop crew Far East Movement that saw 1.5 million heartbeats connect through the app as people watched a live stream of the band playing live, via Ustream. You can still install it today, but good luck getting it to work; for us, it crashed repeatedly. We might charitably assume that this is because the event is over.

Either way, hopefully, future BioBeats apps go beyond just letting you manipulate one song by one band, because the potential for connecting music to the heart is clear — not only as a neat party trick, but as a real health tool for pain reduction, exercise, relaxation, and so on.

From the official description:

BioBeats is creating the future of adaptive media, a world where our apps and devices understand and adapt to the way we feel. We are creating technologies that leverage biometric data to react to our emotional and physiological states, dynamically creating and discovering music that is appropriate to that state.


We’ve seen a few apps that incorporate the heartbeat (see the two links above the quote), but this looks to be the first with some real money and marketing behind it. BioBeats is a finalist in the SXSW Music 2013 Accelerator next week, so it’s sure to attract more attention soon. Hopefully the company will use SXSW as a chance to launch the next version(s), because we’re waiting to see what happens next in biometric music apps with bated breathe and beating hearts.

Image courtesy of Flickr, ChodHound