Monday, April 27, 2009

Dr. Scholls - Better Than Wii?

Experience F-Scan technology from Dr. Scholls Custom Fit Orthopedic Center, it is an amazing presentation of pressure sensitive technology.

You can find a location of this device nearest you and read more about this device:

The pad is like a Wii except it has 2,000 pressure sensors and software capabilities to match. You get a really interesting real time display, complete instructions, and a free recommendation for an orthodic to match your needs.

You know how the game machines in stores always attract the kids and are hardly even empty? I don't understand why this device, like the blood pressure machines located in nearly every pharmacy don't have a line. Biofeedback is personal information? People reluctant to take their shoes off in public?

Do it - biofeedback on a budget!

P.S. Use your camera to collect the images for your biofeedback files!

Monday, April 20, 2009

On-Board Biofeedback

"It's a modern medical twist on an ancient art. Scientists at Draper Laboratory, in Cambridge, MA, are developing a nanosensor that could be injected into the skin, much like tattoo dye, to monitor an individual's blood-sugar level."

The Draper Laboratories Press release, and the Technology Review article quoted above.

Philips is looking for feedback as they explore embedded applications:

"The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers."

Slightly less intimate, MyHeart focuses on health apparel.

Consider for a moment pulse monitoring, also "on-board", and the essential value of biofeedback. Attention is focused by all these techniques and recording is available by photograph, notes, and even data capture. What is the significance of realtime display? Are these biofeedback futures simply an improved mood ring - more chatter and data in our environment when opening the door to benefits depends upon a stillness of the mind.

Friday, April 17, 2009

But Can You Measure the Pleasure?

The page name says it all:

Availability of sensors and monitoring equipment will shrink everything in size and prices will fall. You will be able to monitor, display, and record whatever your tastes or desires dictate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cheap GSR and Temperature Biofeedback

Galvanic Skin Resistance and Temperature changes are digitally displayed as a resistance on the $1.99 Cen-Tech Multimeter. The size of stainless steel clamp ($.99/5) can be adjusted for fit and the NTC thermistor (white tubular object on index finger, $.68) is glued to the clamp and held securely in contact with the finger. The switch is sandwiched between two disposable contact lense containers. Safety warnings on the meter say not to let the probes have contact the skin so I made sure the very low voltage would be at the fingers and wouldn't go across the heart.

I have been able to raise my fingertip temperature. The resistance of the thermister actually drops with a temperature increase so the number goes down. The galvanic skin response fluctuates a great deal and there is a need for some contact gel. Plain water with a little salt works well but evaporation influences the reading. There are recipes for gels on the web. Maybe you know something that works as well as the hospital/lab grade stuff. Let me know.

Eventually this probe will hook up to one of my Arduino boards and the data will be collected, saved and displayed along with other biofeedback data. The record keeping is an important aspect and I am keeping some notes to document the components used as well as the personal measurement variations. Much more on this later.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Polygraph Project from Cornell Students

If you are interested in working on building your own biofeedback devices, you may have seen this page. I just found it. This is the first reference seen that uses air temperature to monitor respiration. A bluetooth optical mouse for $10 started me in another direction you'll see appear here shortly. Air temperature patterns from a mask really delivers a lot of data for storage and interpretation. The other feature of this page is the circuit detail.

Here is a little of the introduction on the page:

"A polygraph (often and incorrectly called a 'lie detector') is a machine which plots in real time several human biological signals such as pulse rate, galvanic skin resistance (GSR), blood pressure, and breathing rate. This machine, in conjunction with a certified examiner, is then used to analyze a subject's stress during interrogation with the intent of distinguishing truth from lying. These machines can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. We attempted to build one for $50.

"For our design project we constructed a polygraph which measured pulse rate, GSR, and breathing rate, and performed a discrete cosine transform (DCT) on the subject's voice in the hope of measuring a deviation in the fundamental frequency (another indicator of stress). The measurements were sampled, analyzed, and transmitted to a computer for further analysis using an ATMEL AVR Mega32 microcontroller."

Absorb it all!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Future of Personal Biomonitoring

Methods of displaying and keeping track of the information gathered are as important as ease of use. While embedded sensor systems like tatoos are certainly on the horizon, pulse monitors like those of Polar or Omron are nearly as convenient. There are a number of different heart rate monitors available that connect with your computer and share information for recordkeeping. Simple paper and pencil systems can also work and examples will follow along with forms you can copy and use.

Blood pressure and pulse recording systems are even more sophisticated. I bought up a $35 dollar unit that automatically takes a reading, features two recording memories, and comes with a USB cable and software that tracks and displays data with a great deal of flexibility.

Two slightly more sophisticated blood pressure monitoring systems:

and looking market ready and displayed very well:

Friday, April 10, 2009

DIY Biofeedback Using GSR

My father's corner workbench was largely unmonitored and unsupervised with little safety instruction. We learned by doing and avoiding the wall outlet. The multimeter settings for reading skin resistance were found by trial and error and my first contact with electronic variables. Searching out GSR galvanic skin response (Wikipedia) possibilities for portable biofeedback gear, I was reminded of a discovery - pressure on the metal probes would influense the meter reading.

Building stable contacts with available materials, mostly rubber bands and paper clips in the pre-velcro age, was much less interesting than exploring the difference various liquids and mixtures made when applied to the skin. If only some instruction in controlling variables had been given I'd have a better idea about that critical age dependant piece of science instruction.

I'll be detailing my more informed experiments with GSR but wanted to capture some of the leads that are informing my investigations:

A new kit available at, The Truth Wristband, would cost about $54 dollars shipped to me, but is ready to assemble with a TRUTH laser cut transparent plate. These Maker items are fun kits with a lot of support and this one replaces a meter with color LEDs to cut costs.

The Scientology E-Meter (Wikipedia) is much more expensive and may not be available to you, but it is a GSR device that depends upon the Wheatstone Bridge (circuit secrets, diagram).

My plan is to modify the inexpensive Harbor Freight Cen-Tech Multimeter which has already been combined with a thermistor for learning fingertip temperature control. More to follow on that as soon as I find the nice photograph that details use and construction.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Habits and Willpower Related?

As seen in Lifehacker, another body-mind biofeedback exercise that fits our mold, er, model.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Paper Forms and Data Collection Sheets

A handy, because it fits in your pocket, adaptable, because you customize it to your needs, paper recording tool, highly recommended:

Forms and organizational aids of every kind. The must see site for paper forms:

Here are basic health information forms, one for adults, one for children:

Toward a Claim Instead of a Disclaimer

Biofeedback and biometrics have improved my health. A balanced sense of myself and a growing record of various measurements have proven valuable in setting goals. I talk with my physicians when I have questions. I'm not a doctor and while I have gotten second opinions on important issues, tend to follow a path western medicine recognizes. You should too.

Biofeedback is powerful. It fits into medicine in ways that are increasingly important and likely to be considered as our health care industry evolves. Research is important guide to my own considerations and I want to share this fact: Diet/nutrition and exercise/fitness are more significant health improvement variables than biofeedback.

In the case of disease, biofeedback might be a part of a treatment plan in a supervised medical program. Improvements to a condition would be much more likely to occur with focus on diet and fitness applied after primary interventions which might include surgery, medication, or a variety of therapies appropriate to the condition.

Claims aside, the following page from a personal biofeedback trainer might give you greater insight into benefits:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Links of Interest

Amazon page with reviews of an infrared pulse sensor to coordinate breathing and relaxation:

Radio Shack sold a Galvanic Skin Response meter in 1994. This is part of the instruction manual:
Automated data recording using dedicated devices some of which interface with your computer.

Biofeedback on a Budget

Want a safe, convenient, simple, and handy biofeedback routine?

Learning to influence fingertip temperature is biofeedback "trick" many start with because temperature is an easy and cheap parameter to collect. You may own or can buy inexpensive devices, from digital thermometers to liquid crystal "dots" that allow you to explore hand and finger temperature control. Relaxation and the techniques leading to success are not easy and simple and evolve with practice.

The practice, use and even building of the other devices will appear later, but the simple technique of placing your fingertips on your neck and comparing the relative temperature of neck and fingertips is the most powerful "Wow" experience of biofeedback available.

Try it, study it, use it.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Wikipedia is as good a reference and ends up as the top reference in most searches for "biofeedback". There wasn't a Google when I hooked up with the subject and while engaging, the internet has not proven as fruitful as personal practices - the source of the material you'll find in subsequent posts.

The Google Results for Biofeedback on April 3, 2009:

Biofeedback - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- 3 visits - Mar 23
Biofeedback is a form of alternative medicine that involves measuring a subject's quantifiable bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, ... - 61k - Cached - Similar pages -
What is Biofeedback? description, history, uses and how biofeedback works. - 18k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback: Using your mind to improve your health -
Biofeedback uses your mind to control your body and improve your health. - 36k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback Network
The Biofeedback Network - On-Line Biofeedback Resources. - 17k - Cached - Similar pages -
5. - Biofeedback Products and Resources for ...
Low-cost Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Products for Practitioners and Home Users. Secure online store, devices and software for biofeedback and more!

Show map of 1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA 93940 - 27k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback Home, Biofeedback Machines, The electromyogram (EMG ...
Biofeedback operates on the notion that we have the innate ability and potential to influence the automatic functions of our bodies through the exertion of ... - 15k - Cached - Similar pages -
Home - Association For Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback
National organization representing those with an interest in biofeedback. - 26k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback, What is biofeedback?Biofeedback is a technique in which people are trained to improve their health by learning to control certain internal ... - 31k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback Equipment | Neurofeedback Equipment | Mind Machines ...
Allied Products/Biofeedback Instrument Corporation provides outstanding alternative health products, medical products and services since 1979. - 59k - Cached - Similar pages -
Video results for biofeedback
Coping With Stress - Biofeedback: Self-Mastery ...
89 min

Biofeedback Training at East Carolina University
1 min 42 sec

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