Circadian Rhythms


Circadian Rhythms
Data Art


Olaf Dünkel


2 million data points

This work was commissioned by Polar, a global company that designs and manufactures sports watches, heart rate monitors, and other sports equipment. Praised by athletes and horses (they make heart-rate monitors for race horses), its DNA is rooted in science and data. They have published more than 1500 studies from their creation in 1977.

Together with Franck Aubry from Racecar, a cutting-edge motion graphics studio from Norway, we've embarked on a journey to visualize the circadian rhythms of three different individuals with unique occupations and different backgrounds.

The Circadian rhythm is the daily cycle of light and dark that the body uses to keep track of time. It helps to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle and other important functions. The cycle is controlled by a "biological clock" that is located in the brain.

Over the course of 8 days, we have gathered and analyzed more than 2 million data points coming for the Polar watches. After an initial phase of concept creations we've quickly realized that a circular shape was the most interesting because of the circular nature of the circadian rhythm and the form of the watch dial.

The basis for the artwork is thus a 24-hour clock with two divergent color palettes to highlight sleep patterns and day activities. The length of each small individual shape depends on the heart rate captured by the watch.

Lighter colors during night highlight moments of wakefulness, and darker colors indicate peaks of activity, like a workout.

Watch the full presentation and the artwork description from the Polar Ignite 3 keynote here.

Circadian RhythmsCircadian Rhythms

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