We remember the thrills. The moments that make our hearts beat faster and adrenaline run: the first kisses and game-winning home runs, the mountaintops and graduations. But they’re fleeting. They happen, and then they’re gone.
In these digital days, though, it’s becoming clear those high points don’t just leave an impression in our memories—they ripple throughout our bodies too. Our lungs and hearts no longer only serve as biological metronomes; they’ve become data engines, whose output is to be tracked, analyzed and visualized. And all of a sudden, we’re wearing technology to translate what our bodies are saying.
Which means we don’t need to leave thrills to memory anymore. We can see them. And, in August, Porsche and Atlantic Re:think, The Atlantic’s creative marketing group, partnered with TRAQS, a personalized analytics platform, and Sosolimited, a digital design studio, to do just that: visualize the thrill.
By bringing together the impressive performance of the new Porsche Macan, a day at the racetrack, wearable technology, cutting-edge data analytics, and digital artistry, we sought to answer the question: What does the thrill look like?
We outfitted a group of 25 innovators in design, sports, and technology with Hexoskin—a futuristic shirt that tracks heart beats, breathing rates and body movement. Then we buckled them each into the Porsche Macan and sent them speeding around a serpentine race track.
Alternately giggly, amped and anxious, the riders sent millions of data points through their shirts into a visual dashboard powered by TRAQS’s system. “You can see someone coming around a corner and their heart rate spikes or they start to breathe heavily,” said Wade Aaron, a designer at Sosolimited. “When you trace their data over the track, you end up with this really unique fingerprint of their experience on the racetrack.”
It’s that “fingerprint” that inspired Aaron’s team—an award-winning group responsible for everything from music videos to interactive art installations—as they designed an algorithm to process the data into a visceral flow of pulsating, glowing shapes and colors.
“They sort of communicate something about the physicality of the thing that we’re measuring,” he said. “Blood and air through the body. And you can see the body’s enthusiasm through the data that’s reflective of their psychological enthusiasm. It’s very cool to see that kind of unearthed, in a legible way, in an expressive way.”
In other words: everyone experiences “the thrill” in radically different—yet distinctly measurable—ways. And that in itself is kind of thrilling.
The Thrill, Visualized
Data—and specifically, data about how we work as human beings—can be beautiful. That's the premise of the Art of the Thrill. Below, you'll find a sampling of artistic renderings of biometric data from the project. The colors, shapes, and sizes all reflect real-world factors: the contours of the track, heart and breathing rates, moments of adrenaline and moments of rest.