Write off Stress with a Pen
Until now, stress relief has taken conscious effort whether that's a yoga class or a few minutes breathing along with Dr. Berg's Stress Buster on the iPhone, but a researcher from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has invented a device that subconsciously reduces stress.
"In the future, more and more products will be able to interpret what users are feeling and use that information in a smart way," said inventor Miguel Bruns Alonso.
Alonso designed a pen that can reduce stress without any conscious activity by the user.
"Sensors in a pen could provide an unobtrusive way of measuring stress levels. Giving users the right feedback could then help them deal with their stress in a constructive way," Alonso said.
Alonso's research showed people play with their pens when they're feeling tense. Given some gentle feedback, people seemed to subconsciously calm themselves. Heart rates of users fell by an average of five percent when using his anti-stress pen in the laboratory.
How it works
Through built-in electronics and electromagnets, sensors in the pen detects the quicker movements associated with stress and becomes gradually more difficult to move around. This encourages users to move in a more relaxed way, which in turn makes the pen yield more easily again, Alonso explained.
The trick is that the user is unaware of the pen's growing sluggishness and subconsciously begins using it in a more fluid way, which in turn makes it easier to write.
Lowered heart rate
In tests, people who used the anti-stress pen had a significantly lower heart rate than those who used an identical pen without sensors. Subjects in the first group reported they were unaware of any mechanical feedback.
"The conclusion to be drawn from this is that products which seek to reduce short-term stress should, preferably, intervene directly to modify that behavior, rather than warning the user about their stress levels, for instance. This could allow products to reduce stress in an unobtrusive way," Alonso said.
The anti-stress pen is a prototype and currently not available for purchase.