Cocoon: A generative art installation powered by human data

Today we are proud to reveal something very different, a unique and powerful project that has come to fruition after months of hard work.

Lying at the intersection of digital health, technology, and art, Cocoon is a generative art installation that questions the relationship between the singular and the communal, our understanding of the human body, and the interconnectedness of life itself, all powered through Empatica’s technology platform.

The concept behind Cocoon: Health is a community endeavor

Cocoon uses our medical-grade EmbracePlus smartwatch and its SDK in a novel way: to showcase how bodies, our health, and our very lives are interconnected, something we have had to discover the hard way after two years of living with Covid-19. We have always thought of taking our health measurements as an individual, often solitary act, quantified through our vital signs and how we experience and understand what our own bodies are trying to tell us, sometimes in an ambiguous way.

Yet, the pandemic has been a reminder of how our health is more connected to the health of others than we believe, whether through mask-wearing, vaccinations, or the implications of social distancing and isolation on mental health. Health is a community endeavor, and Cocoon highlights this collective, connected element of being human by re-elaborating physiological signals into an immersive crowdsourced display of music and lights, generated by AI.

With the rise of remote health monitoring technologies like Empatica’s, we have finally begun to view health as a web of interconnected nodes, and also to reconsider our relationship with the right kinds of technology; the kinds of technology we can have a healthy relationship with, but also have access to that can actually positively influence our wellbeing.

How Cocoon works

Empatica’s platform consists of hardware, software, and smart algorithms that work together to accurately track human health. Cocoon turns this idea on its head - what if the health data itself is used in creating generative art, in the form of light and sound?

The installation is a circular wooden sculpture consisting of 24 rings and 12k LEDs, and simultaneously syncs to multiple EmbracePlus devices. EmbracePlus measures physiological data such as pulse rate, electrodermal activity, and breathing rate, and transmits this to the sculpture with the help of a smartphone app, similar to the way our health monitoring platform works, but with very different results.

Cocoon’s color, mood, and soundscapes change in real-time, based on people’s collective level of excitement, activity, and even on whether they are sleeping or awake. The rings light up using the streamed data, the individual presence of people coming together in unison to form a choreography of hope and beauty.

Cocoon at LIFE ITSELF event in San Diego

Cocoon has premiered at LIFE ITSELF, an event hosted by the co-creators of TEDMED that brings together leading figures from the fields of health and medicine, and is running in the historic Hotel del Coronado, San Diego between 31 May - 3 June. Every LIFE ITSELF guest will have the opportunity to wear an EmbracePlus and contribute to Cocoon.

With an overall diameter of 7 meters, and standing at 3 meters tall, visitors do not only contribute to the final result, but are also able to walk through the rings and interact with the sculpture.

Follow Empatica on Twitter and Linkedin to get a glimpse of Cocoon in real life, or visit to find out more.

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