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Japanese computer mouse keeps track of how stressed you are

Thu 28 Apr 2016

Japan workplace stress

Japanese scientists have created a computer mouse which monitors users’ mental stress levels, which they hope will help businesses to better manage employee well-being.

Alps Electric unveiled the prototype at Medtec Japan last week, showcasing the mouse’s ability to track stress and environmental factors through a collection of sensors. The company hope that the device could be used to manage workplace morale and help human resources teams get an accurate overview of how stressed their employees are.

Workplace stress is a huge problem in Japan, with a majority of employees working extended office hours and tackling hectic commutes. According to reports, as many as 20,000 people die in the country every year from suicides, strokes and heart attacks linked to overworking, known nationally as ‘karoshi’.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 15.12.14The Alps Electric mouse monitors and feeds back information on mouse movement, as well as the user’s pulse, haemoglobin levels and rate of oxygen saturation in the bloodstream – all indicators of potential heart attack and stroke risk.

The device is also able to keep tabs on the working environment, collecting data on UV, light, humidity and temperature.

Alps Electric hopes to have perfected the design by the end of the year, with first shipments planned for spring next year.

Scientists globally are investigating the possible applications of technologies which can measure users’ emotions and moods for long-term health monitoring and performance assessment. Last month, a group of Australian researchers released a paper explaining their programme which aggregates data on the user’s tone of voice over varying time periods to gauge mood.

Earlier this year Apple purchased a San Diego-based AI company called Emotient, which describes itself as ‘the leader in emotion detection and sentiment analysis.’ It is understood that Apple will develop this facial recognition technology to analyse customer reactions to products, services and marketing. This alternative could offer a more quantitatively comparable approach than traditional focus groups, which rely heavily on feelings and impressions to measure consumer reactions.

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