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Gadgets

Computer mouse from Japan monitors your stress levels

Alps Electric hopes to keep workplace morale high with a new computer mouse that keeps tabs on the well-being of employees.

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In Japanese, the term "karoshi" means "death by overwork."

Moodboard/Corbis

Workplace stress has existed as long as workplaces have. A Japanese company hopes a newfangled computer mouse will combat that drag on employee well-being.

Unveiled at the MedTec convention in Tokyo last week, Alps Electric's mouse contains sensors that monitor a user's stress levels, reports Japan Today. It also gauges environmental factors that could influence employee welfare.

It's little surprise the mouse is being developed in Japan, a country known for long office hours and brutal commutes. The Japanese even have a term, "karoshi," that means "death by overwork." Official figures say around 400 people die each year from suicides, strokes and heart attacks due to work overload, but the real number has been estimated to be as high as 20,000, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Alps Electric's mouse would allow management and human resources departments to get a more accurate picture of how stressed their workforce and particular employees are.

The device monitors and relays pulse, hemoglobin levels and oxygen saturation in the bloodstream, all of which are indicators of heart attack and stroke risk. Meanwhile, environmental sensors collect information on UV, ambient light, humidity and temperature, which can contribute to a person's mental well-being.

The sensors also monitor mouse-movement activity, giving greater insight as to what makes us tick.

Alps Electric is expecting to complete the sensor-equipped devices by the end of 2016. Samples could ship by next spring.