Skip a beat

Two former TU Delft students have just launched the world’s first mobile app where your own heart beat affects the game.
In 2012 Yosef Safi Harb, an aerospace graduate, founded a startup called Happitech.

Having developed a sensor to monitor and improve the performance of cars, he wondered how he could apply this technology to people. So he assembled a team and, after two years in development, Happitech has delivered a unique app called Skip a Beat.

The app is an endless runner game where you follow Skip the frog as he soars through the skies. It features four different game modes from zen to spicy and your ability to master your heart rate affects your score. “The app allows you to see how your heart rate changes under different scenarios,” said Julie Christine Wolsak. A TU Delft architecture graduate, Wolsak has known Safi Harb for seven years and joined the team as Operations Manager.

According to their website, Happitech believes that biofeedback can be used as a powerful trigger to help people develop self-awareness and form positive habits. “Your heart rate is key to health, stress and mood, but you are not always aware of your mood at a given moment,” said Safi Harb. “We wanted to create a way for you to train yourself to control your heart rate while making the process fun for the user.”

What makes their game unique is that it runs on an iPhone with no additional hardware necessary. Normally something like a heart rate monitor would be needed, but with the technology Safi Harb and his team have developed, the heart rate is measured by simply placing a finger on the phone camera.

In 2013, an early prototype of the app won the Best Dutch E-Health Innovation award which helped them get funding to move forward. They have since teamed up with Ordina, the largest IT firm in the Benelux region.

The technology that Happitech has created can be easily integrated into other games and apps. Skip a Beat is currently only compatible with the iOS and is exclusively available  through the Apple App Store for €1.99. Safi Harb said they will continue to leverage existing technologies and hope to expand beyond reading heart rates by exploring breathing rates and facial expressions in the future.

“We want to make these tools accessible by turning your phone into a mobile coach,” said Safi Harb.

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