By David Ponce
Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a method for determining stress levels that can fit inside a computer mouse. It uses a pulse-wave sensor to measure bloodflow in the fingertip by bouncing infrared light off your flesh and analyzing the variations. And while bloodflow itself is not a marker of stress (certain hormone levels are), the researchers have found a correlation between the stability in your cardiac rhythm and these hormone levels, 70% of the time.
Of course this begs the question of why anyone would want to know how stressed they are, not to mention that any given person is likely already aware of their stress levels without a device having to tell them. At least that’s what you’d like to think, but the truth is that we really don’t pay that much attention. We trudge through our days rarely making an effort to manage our stress. This device could help harness the power of feedback loops, much like newer street signs showing you your actual speed (even though you can easily glance at your speedometer) have proven to be effective at slowing motorists down. We can envision a program that constantly monitors you and flashes a warning sign when it’s time to cool off.
The entertainment value of such a system of course would pale in comparison with the fun to be had watching your cubicle neighbor finally lose it in a fit of keyboard smashing melodrama.