A group of developers in California have used this idea to build a Smartphone application that enables users to monitor and track their stress levels over time by recording and analysing the tone of their phone conversations.
Named StressSense, this app is programmed to recognise the most common physiological changes stress induces in the voice.
To make it work, the user must first relax before recording a three-minute monologue (reading from a book, poem, magazine etc.) to teach the app what their un-stressed voice sounds like.
StressSense can then compare this recording with future recordings to identify when users experience the most stress. Users will have the option to record their voices throughout the whole day, or just when they are talking on the phone.
Hong Lu of Intel, who developed the app, tested it on a group of volunteers put through mock job interviews. Lu and his team found that the accuracy of stress-recognition was an impressive 81% indoors and 76% outdoors (with background noise).
The app will come as a plugin for the current Android app BeWell, which uses GPS sensors and accelerometres to record users’ activity levels and sleep patterns.
Lu hopes the new software will increase people’s awareness of everyday stresses and help them to cope better.
Stress is a hormonal response to situations we find threatening or difficult. Stress has a number of serious side-effects, including anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, chest pains, palpitations, addiction and bowel problems.
Getting a grip on our stress levels could help us to think more clearly and deal with our problems in a more pragmatic way.
The StressSense app will be presented to the Ubicomp conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (U.S.) in September.
To find out how counselling can help counter stress and its symptoms, please visit our Stress page.
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