This piece is a substantial (~30 pages) review of literature concerning the history and development of the heart rate monitor (HRM), starting from the beginning of recorded history, to recent history.

The next section defines some design considerations for a heart rate monitor, using principles learned from my human factors classes. Portability, considering the users who will interact with the device, keeping mind of the physical environment the device operates in, and design considerations for the controls and displays are discussed.

The use of HRMs in the field of human factors is also explored. I discuss the HRM’s instrumentation in measuring a user’s mental workload. I clarify measures typically used in tangent with the HRM data, such as the NASA-TLX, and go into detail about heart rate variability-- what it is, how it is calculated, and what the value indicates. I also describe in detail the spectral analysis of the analog signals received from the HRM. How HRMs are used to measure the user’s physical effort on a task are also described in the document. Additionally, I discuss the heart rate monitor’s utility in measuring a user’s affect in the context of human-computer interaction.

I also briefly speculate about the future developments for HRMs and their future utility in the field of human factors, concluding the literature review.