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Universities to study stress in real-time

Computerized watch containing sensors monitors environment, body functions and psychological responses to questions.

The National Institute of Health has given a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh a $426,000 grant to study the effectiveness of a watch for measuring stress.

The eWatch is a giant wristwatch that is both a sensor device and a computer.

Carnegie Mellon University

It measures sounds, motion, ambient light and location of the environment, as well as the skin temperature, health status and activity level of the wearer.

The device was developed by Daniel Siewiorek, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, and Asim Smailagic, research professor in Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering.

The study itself, led by University of Pittsburgh professor of psychology Thomas Kamarck, will use the eWatch to determine specifically what factors constitute stress for an individual and "quantify how stressors affect one's daily life, as well as to pinpoint when these effects begin and when they end."

Previous studies have shown that people who report that they have more stressful lifestyles also have higher rates of illness such as heart disease. But it's been hard to pinpoint detailed information on how stressful experiences affect individuals on a moment-to-moment basis long-term, according to Carnegie Mellon's statement on the project.

To that end, study participants will wear the eWatch for five days and answer up to 3 minutes worth of questions asked by the eWatch every 45 minutes.

The questions will be things like 'Working hard?' and 'Happy?' with a 'yes' or 'no' response possible.

eWatch question
Carnegie Mellon University