a performance/vehicle intervention that uses an invented HBBB (HeartBeat Bass Booster) system to amplify the heartbeat of a car driver in real time through an interface with a beefed up car audio aftermarket system. The intervention/invention achieves an ultimate unity between car and driver.



Max programming: David Tinapple  
Technical consultant: Garth Zeglin


HBBB (HeartBest Bass Booster) System

The Pulse oximeter heart beat sensor is clipped to the ear lobe of the “driver’ and the heartbeat of the person is interfaced by Pic microcontroller and Max/MSP software on a PowerBook. At each heartbeat, a patch on Max/MSP triggers the audio file of a single heartbeat and outputs it to the car audio. The car audio amplifies the heartbeat sound with its high power amp and subwoofers. The transducers (bass shaker) installed under the driver’s seat shakes the seat to maximize the haptic sensation at each heartbeat. Under the car lights (LED) and inside car lights blinks simultaneously with the heartbeats as they receive signal from the PowerBook through interface/relay box. Computer LCD monitor on the car displays the visualization of the heartbeat sound in real-time.  

Heartbeat DJ

HBBB system also has a “disco mode”. In this mode, BPM of music files being played changes in real-time according to the heart rate of the user. As the heartbeat of the user/dancer rises, the BPM of the music also increases. The user can either turn the heartbeat sound on/off along with the music.




Cranked-up bass sounds leaking from cruising pimped cars are a familiar annoyance of the city streets in the world. What if the bass sounds are the drivers’ real-time heartbeat instead of beats of music?Does our relationship with the vehicle/driver and the pedestrians change? 

The HBBB system amplifies the heartbeat of the driver in real-time by interfacing the car audio with a heartbeat sensor. By hacking on the technology/hobby that is often used as psychological armor, territory-marking tool, the project turn the body/vehicle relationship inside-out, addressing the vulnerability of human body and emotion and aims to understand our obsession on automobiles and it’s modification.

Video: Pimp My Heart performance
Miller gallery, Carnegie Mellon Univ. Pittsburgh, PA. 
March 24th, 2006

Customized Chevrolet Cavalier 2003 was brought to the gallery for the first Pimp My Heart performance by the generosity of the owner, Joe Kimmerle and a sponsorship by Collins Family Motorsport. 

Visitors tried on the HBBB pendant to play their heartbeats and heart rate controlled music through the subwoofers on the vehicle.