I started looking into ways of setting up an Arduino to monitor heart rate data some time ago. The idea of building things that react to a heartbeat seems like such an interesting thing – a visualization of something very basic yet at the same time very personal. After all – out heartbeat (and changes in our heartbeat) can really reveal a lot about what we are feeling at a given time.
The pulse sensor kickstarter gave me a simple sensor that was quite easy to use and provided decent results. It’s main limitation was that due to the device’s design, it was very hard to take it on the go. Movement disrupts the signal easily. I spent a lot of time fiddling with the PulseSensor and the PulseSensor Amped without really making any progress. It was quite frustrating.
While scouring the web for heart rate sensing arduino projects, I stumbled upon a bildr tutorial using a Polar heart rate monitor and an Arduino interface designed by danjuliodesigns in collaboration with Sparkfun Electronics. I immediately ordered both, and two days later I was getting the kind of readings and ease of use I wanted all along.
While it does not provide realtime feedback in the same way as the Pulse Sensor, it provides a much more reliable signal, and it returns the pulse rate as an integer which is easy to work with in code.