BrightHearts Research

Collaboration with Dr Angie Morrow, 2011 – ongoing


The BrightHearts Research project is investigating the application of George Khut’s heart-rate controlled artworks  for use during medical procedures – as a biofeedback assisted relaxation-training app to help manage the pain and anxiety experienced by children who undergo recurrent painful procedures, such as injections for Botulinim (‘Botox’) treatments, Baclofen pump changes, central line changes, and lumbar punctures.

The recurrent nature of these procedures can result in a build-up of anticipatory anxiety, causing significant distress to the children, exacerbating the perceived intensity of the painful stimulus during treatment, and further complicating veinipuncture procedures in cases of extreme vasoconstriction. If left un-addressed, the intense distress and anxiety experienced during these procedures can lead to avoidance behaviours that may stay with them into adulthood. .

Children using the BrightHearts App before and during anxiety provoking procedures are rewarded with sounds and visuals that respond to decreases in heart rate over different periods of time i.e. changes that they can influence with their breathing, and longer-term changes that require relaxation.

The BrightHearts approach combines standard distraction methods with the principals of biofeedback relaxation training – focusing children’s attention away from their object of their anxiety and fear, and helping them to develop skills for observing and regulating their response during painful procedures.

The BrightHearts App is designed to work with Heart Rate sensors that use the Bluetooth Heart Rate standardsensors i.e. MIO Alpha, Link etc., Polar H7, and is available for purchase from the Apple iTunes Store.


George Khut: interaction concept, interaction programming (Max-MSP), production management

Dr Angie Morrow: Chief investigator, Staff specialist, Kids Rehab, The Childrens Hospital at Westmead – acute pain management; hospital and research office liason

Dr Katarina Ostojic: PhD researcher, Kids Rehab, The Childrens Hospital at Westmead

Ben Cloyd and Dr Melissa Yogui-Watanabe: research assistants, Kids Rehab.

Caroline Dale: Qualitative research – children’s experiences of recurrent painful procedures

Jason McDermott: iOS development (visualisation software)

Andy Nicholson (Infinite Recursion): iOS Development

Angelo Fraietta (Smart Controller) and Frank Maguire: sensor electronics and hardware design

Tuan Mahn Vu, Lukas Blödorn, Christoph Eibisberger, and Monette Tan (Final Year Students – Extreme Programming Workshop, Faculty of Engineering and IT): Heart Rate Variability Analysis software

Research Publications

BrightHearts: A pilot study of biofeedback assisted relaxation training for the management of chronic pain in children with cerebral palsy
K Ostojic, N Sharp, S Paget, G Khut… – Paediatric and Neonatal Pain, 2022 – Wiley Online Library

Effectiveness of Biofeedback Relaxation and Audio Visual Distraction on Dental Anxiety among 7-12 year Old Children while Administering Local Anesthesia
P Krishnan, R Hemalatha, S Paulindraraj… – International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 2021 –

The feasibility of using the BrightHearts biofeedback‐assisted relaxation application for the management of pediatric procedural pain: a pilot study
KLO Burton, AM Morrow, BV Beswick, GP Khut – Pain Practice, 2018 – Wiley Online Library

The use of mobile and new media technologies in a health intervention about HPV and HPV vaccination in schools
C Davies, R Skinner, H.L. Odgers, GP Khut, AM Morrow
Chapter in Book: Youth, Technology, Governance, Experience, 1st Edition, 2018, Routledge

Developing BrightHearts: A Pediatric Biofeedback‐Mediated Relaxation App to Manage Procedural Pain and Anxiety
AM Morrow, KLO Burton, MM Watanabe, BH Cloyd, GP Khut – Pain, 2017 – Wiley Online Library

Designing Biofeedback Artworks for Relaxation
GP Khut CHI EA ’16: Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Life Beyond Legacy: George Poonhkin Khut’s Distillery: Waveforming
A Pagliarino – AICCM Bulletin, 2015 – Taylor & Francis

Brighthearts: development of a biofeedback controlled interactive artwork for the management of procedural pain and anxiety in children
A Morrow, M Yogui, PG Khut – Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 2014

The BrightHearts Project: A New Approach to theManagement of Procedure-Related Paediatric Anxiety
GP Khut, M Yogui, A Morrow –
OZCHI 2011 Workshops Programme, 2011


BrightHearts has been supported by the James N. Kirby Foundation (medical grant);  the Australian Network for Art and Technology; the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Kids Rehab, and the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Special thanks to UTS Interaction Design and Human Practices Lab (IDHuP), and UTS DAB Interactivation Studio.