Physiological Study

User Experience, Mobile, IoT, University

Ubiquitous computing has the potential to enhance everyday experiences and make them unique. This project at university challenged me to design and prototype a way in which ubiquitous data can be harnessed for meaningful purpose. This was a group challenge which involved working with one other person (my good friend Jack Doonan), and we decided on collecting physiological data.

Our discussions led to a conversation about whether emotional responses in video games could be measured. We decided to investigate effects of heart rate, and controller pressure.


We used an API from thingspeak and Arduino processing IDE to set our application up and recorded live heart pulses using console tools.

The games we chose were from two categories: Single player horror, and multiplayer competitive. As an additional research point we wanted to find which of these two genres invoked a greater physiological response.

Arduino MKR1000 and heart monitor


Pressure sensor

The pressure sensor was a bit of a headache as it wasn’t sensitive enough to detect small changes in pressure. We tried to lower the PSI measurements by using a bigger resistor in our breadboard but the data was far too inconsistent to be used in the experiment.

pressure sensor

Manual header soldering

The soldering job was successful, but we had a close call with the last pin when a big glob of solder fell onto the pin (in the picture its the pin at the top). It was my first time soldering circuit boards, but luckily the connection was fine and did not cross.



Even without the pressure sensor data our results were very conclusive. Competitive Multiplayer games proved to invoke greater mean BPM across the session. Single player horror games had extreme spikes in BPM rates, however the mean was much lower.

The difference in BPM was very noticeable in the horror games. In post we found that muscle movements generate the same frequency of noise as the heart. Hence the BPM during jumpscare moments is somewhat distorted, during moments of extreme movements.

Resident Evil result

Our final report considered how this data could be useful. Within the games industry visual/audio feedback could be given based on instantaneous physiological responses to what is already shown.