HeartRace Jacket


The HeartRace jacket is a jacket meant to aid and inspire runners. The jacket (which in reality is more like a vest) keeps runners safe when jogging during the night or day by making them visible to others and warning them when someone approaches from behind. The jacket also visualizes the wearer’s heartbeat (received from a Polar Heart Rate Monitor) with glowing LEDs.

What it does:

The HeartRace jacket does a few things. First, the jacket receives the signal sent out by a Polar Heart Rate Monitor and uses this input to make LEDs glow. Red LEDs in the front and back of the jacket visualize the wearer’s heartbeat (assuming they are wearing a Polar monitor) by pulsing at half of its speed. These lights provide visual feedback to the runner of the work that they are doing. Runners can feel the empowered by the light that the jacket puts out.

Second, the jacket (although already visible by the pulsing red LEDs) has two super bright rear LEDs to ensure that approaching bikers and runners see the wearer.  These blue LEDs are activated by a proximity sensor and glow brighter the closer the biker or runner is. The jacket also warns the runner when someone is approaching from behind. Once some enters within range of the jacket, small pager motors vibrate on each shoulder to let the wearer know. The motors vibrate periodically, along with two blue indicator LEDs on the front of the jacket, as long as someone is within range. This functionality is especially useful for runners who listen to music as they exercise. The jacket allows them to be aware of their surroundings. This way the runner is not startled by bikers or runners he/she can’t hear.

Lastly, the jacket has two IR sensors on either side of the jacket’s chest that can be used along with an IR emitting glove instead of buttons. The sensors pick up the IR light from the IR emitters on the glove; in this way, waving an arm infront of the jacket can replace physically pushing buttons. To test the concept, the sensors were assigned different tasks. Activating the right sensor turn all the LEDs on, activating the left sensor turned them all off, and waving the glove across the chest (hitting one sensor then the other) caused the LEDs to blink.

I plan to do future documentation and video editing over the summer so that I can submit the project to various “wearables” websites.


The jacket was made in two layers. The inside of the jacket was sewn first. Then electronics were glued to small slats of wood and the pieces were slipped into tightly sewn pockets on the outside of the inner layer. Wires were sewn flush to the jacket so that they didn’t flop around. Finally, the outside of the jacket was sewn, placed over the inner layer and the seams were covered. The jacket runs off of an Arduino Duemilanove powered by a 9V battery.

Primary Code

Arduino Sketch: tronjacket

Secondary Code (for interaction with glove)

Arduino Sketch: tronjacketpart2


1x   Ultrasonic Range Finder – Maxbotix LV-EZ1

1x   Polar Heart Rate Module – RMCM01 (with 32kHz crystal)

1x   Polar Heart Rate Monitor

4x   Ultra Bright Blue LEDs

4x   Wide Red LEDs

2x   IR sensor

3x   IR LEDs

2x  10k ohm resistors

15x   220 ohm resistors

1 AA battery (for the glove)

1 9V battery and adaptor (to power the arduino)


~ by chrisioffreda on May 12, 2010.

3 Responses to “HeartRace Jacket”

  1. I was wondering how you intercepted the signals from the Polar heart rate monitor. I have to do a project where I have to monitor heart rate but protocols are proprietary I found out. Any help would be appreciated.

    • hey, sorry i just got your message. there is an electronic thing you can buy on sparkfun that picks up the signal from a polar heartrate monitor (i had to buy a chest monitor).

      I just hooked this piece up at a variable resistor and the incoming signal jumps everytime the heart rate monitor picked up beat

  2. also, you cave to buy a crystal with the polar heeart rate module (the thing that picks up the signal with the arduino) – the diagram is in one of my pictures above

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