Blog and Ideas
December 14, 2011
By Jorge Chávez

The mouse that quantifies stress levels

Tokyo Metropolitan University has developed pulse wave sensor built into a computer mouse.

The mouse that quantifies stress levels

 

Stress, like most things, should come in moderation. In reality, stress isn’t always bad. Strictly defined, this condition is our bodies’ response to a demand.

Find yourself face-to-face with a sneering bear? Your body quickly goes into “fight or flight” mode, or survival stress. Our cardiovascular system reacts, increasing our heart rate and blood pressure which turn into needed energy.  A burst of energy surges through your body and off you go with the bear in quick pursuit.  This response is the activation of our body’s sympathetic nervous system. 

There is also stress that motivates you to finish a project on time, or stress put to productive use.  Then there is “bad” or “negativestress. This stress is sometimes self-imposed.  We worry about things beyond our control.  We are overworked and fatigued.  Sometimes it is environmental, i.e. too much smog, overcrowding or traffic. These are the stresses we have to watch.

 With this in mind, a group of Japanese scientists at the Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed pulse wave sensor built into a computer mouse. Plugged into a computer’s USB port, the mouse quantifies stress levels. An individual simply places their hand and index finger over the sensor and in 10 seconds a calculation of their stress level is measured.  This compact mechanism analyzes the hand’s blood flow and registers it through graphic signals that appear on a computer’s screen.  Activated by the thumb, the mouse will continually read stress levels ensuring a constant awareness.

The hope is that this real time analysis will help people be aware of their stress levels and be proactive in lessening their stress loads. Negative stress carried on for extensive and prolonged periods of time can pose severe medical difficulties including elevated cardiac levels, hyperventilation, excessive sweating, and dizziness among others.  This compact mouse may just help in alleviating the stress of office workers worldwide and improving the health of many. 

Michelle Mayer is blogger for Mijo! Brands for Mexico.

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