creating simple biofeedback software
January 4, 2006 10:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to create a simple biofeedback program that will display a real-time graph of the user's heart rate. But instead of using actual pulse monitor hardware as the input the user would just take their pulse with one hand and simultaneously press enter with the other hand each time they feel a pulse. Then I would like this data to be displayed in beats per minute on the Y-axis. This seems like a very simple program. The problem is I'm really not sure where to start and know very little about programming. The closest I've come to programming is using Excell and messing around in Flash. Does anyone know if there are easy to use programming tools that would enable me to create a program like the one I've described or if there are already existent programs similar to this? Thanks alot.
posted by SDAnder to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I would start with python or ruby if you have no background in programming. On the other hand, if you're trying to make a GUI application you will spend about 99% of your time fussing with event loops and dialog procedures and 1% of your time actually coding the logic of the application.

Plan B would be to start with an existing open source application similar to what you want to accomplish and extending it. Probably the quickest route to your goal would be to have it output the data in a simple tab- or comma-delimited format which would be imported or read by a graphing program like excel.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:22 PM on January 4, 2006

You could try PythonCard. Its motivation is HyperCard, Apple's awesome scripting and all-around-fun environment. PythonCard is built on wxPython, which is extremely powerful and even cross-platform. And it's Python. It's possible to build substantial scientific programs with PythonCard.
posted by ldenneau at 11:24 PM on January 4, 2006

HyperCard is long defunct, sadly.
posted by ldenneau at 11:25 PM on January 4, 2006

(I use PythonCard, and it's great, but I don't see why they named it PythonCard because it's nothing like Hypercard at all. It is a great way to create GUIs for your programs quickly, though, and Python is easy to learn)
posted by Jimbob at 11:57 PM on January 4, 2006

Maybe some links would be in order too.

Python is a language that is easy to learn and is freely available for most platforms.

wxWidgets (which used to be called wxWindows) is a GUI framework that is cross-platform and free, and is intended for making GUI applications painlessly. Their site has some screenshots and samples that show what is possible.

wxPython is a set of Python libraries (or "bindings") for using wxWidgets from Python. It has a wiki that has some good starting points for learning.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:58 PM on January 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips. I am going to check out this python you speak of.
posted by SDAnder at 12:43 AM on January 5, 2006

I might also look at processing, which is a simplified java system. Your app could be coded in processing easily, and it'd be a java app so would (probably, heh) work everywhere.

Another option is REALbasic, which is by our own Mars Saxman, btw. It's got good GUI support, but I haven't actually built anything with it. Mars is "teh hott" though. It's not free, however, this might be a good thing. I bet the documentation is good and that the development community is also active, if small.
posted by zpousman at 5:10 AM on January 5, 2006

But instead of using actual pulse monitor hardware as the input the user would just take their pulse with one hand and simultaneously press enter with the other hand each time they feel a pulse.

Slightly off-topic, but I think that users will find it easier to press [Enter] every five (or even ten) pulses, rather than simultaneously: 1, 2, 3, 4, press, 1, 2, 3, 4, press.
posted by WestCoaster at 9:35 AM on January 5, 2006

Response by poster: That's a good point westcoast. It would be easier that way.
posted by SDAnder at 10:33 AM on January 5, 2006

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