Lectures Team

Tachy-tiles “Soft” Launch, Interacting with and Understanding Arrhythmias

We celebrated the success of the (literally) soft lauch of Tachy-tiles (TACHYcardia TactTILE Feedback), our soft haptic platform for experiencing irregular heartbeats through touch. Tachy-tiles made their debut on Wednesday 28 June 2023 at The Musical Heart, part of the Barts 900 celebration, at the Morris Lecture Theatre, Robin Brooke Centre, St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

We know that arrhythmias and irregular heartbeats are distressing for those who suffer from them, but it can be hard for others to imagine what this experience is like. Tachy-tiles provide a way for others to experience how arrhythmias feel, with the goal to generate more empathy and understanding among people with these heart conditions. These haptic interaction devices were created for experiencing arrhythmias through touch; rather than using visualisation of the heartbeat, which might require background knowledge to interpret, Tachy-tiles provide a hands-on interaction with cardiac data to allow others to engage and experience arrhythmias how patients do – by feeling them.

The Tachy-tiles are created using soft plush bodies, which “beat” like a heart in an easy-to-manipulate and robust interactive device; people can squish them, place them against their chest or ear, or hold them with others to feel this feedback. Tachy-tiles use digital signal processing in Arduino to render heart data (for instance RR intervals, the intervals between successive heartbeats) as pulses (beats) using small motors. Audience members, including our clinical partners, nurses, medical students, and previous patients of St. Barts, were able to experience arrhythmias through this soft feedback at the Barts 900 celebration.

The ongoing development of Tachy-tiles was funded, in part, by the KCL Faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences (NMES) Enterprise & Engagement Fund under the project Interacting with Arrhythmias Through Soft Vibrotactile Feedback. By providing a way to share these personal experiences in future events, we hope to create more open space where others can learn more about these arrhythmias by feeling the sensation themselves, generating insight into patients’ experiences.

This event is one of several hosted in 2023 in celebration of the 900th anniversary of St Bartholomew’s Hospital and St Bartholomew the Great church. For more information on upcoming events and the Barts900 Campaign, visit barts900.org or email bartshealth.900thanniversary@nhs.net

The research described is part of the COSMOS and HEART.FM projects that have received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement Nos. 788960 and 957532.)