Oct 20, 2007
A wrist-mounted instrument for measuring psychosocial stress
Via AATP Interactive
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh are investigating psychosocial stress exposure during the course of daily life using an instrument called eWatch, a multisensor package about the size of a large wristwatch. The eWatch can sense sound, motion, ambient light, skin temperature and other factors that provide clues about the wearer’s location, health status and current activity.
From the news release:
Every 45 minutes over the course of five days, the eWatch will prompt wearers to take part in a 2-to-3-minute interview. The instrument will record their response to questions about their current activities, such as “Working hard?” and “Working fast?” By the end of the study, several hundred people will have tested the eWatch.
Previous research has shown that responses to such interviews help predict who will show higher rates of plaque development in the arteries, a risk factor for heart attack or stroke. Using interviews in real time allows researchers to quantify how stressors affect one’s daily life, as well as to pinpoint when these effects begin and when they end.
Use of the eWatch technology should assist researchers in finding the optimal method for responding to such interviews during daily activities, whether by pressing a button, moving the wrist or speaking into a wireless ear bug device. Environmental data collected by the eWatch also may assist the researchers in characterizing the types of environments people find most stressful, so that their location, such as home or work, may be recorded automatically.
“We want to capture a slice of life in people’s daily routine,” says Kamarck. “We hope that these new tools will allow us to do so while minimizing disruptions imposed by the act of measurement.”