A Stress Monitor Designed Specifically To Help You Work From Home

There are quite a bit of mixed emotions regarding working from home. Some people love it and are thriving like they haven’t before, but others are having a bit of a hard time with it all. [Brandon] has been working from home for the last 12 years, but even after so many years of managing this type of work culture, he admits that it can still be a little stressful. He says he doesn’t take enough time in between tasks to simply relax and to breathe a little and the day-to-day minutia of his work can drive his stress level up if he doesn’t take some time to calm himself. He figured he could make something to monitor his stress level and remind himself to take a break and the results are pretty impressive.

He develops a system to monitor his heart rate and the ambient noise level in his room and uses these metrics as a measure of stress. If his heart rate or the ambient noise level goes above a certain threshold, then he sends himself a text message reminding himself to relax and take a break. You’ve probably seen people use heart rate as a measure of stress already, but you’re probably less familiar with using sound. [Brandon] basically thought the sound sensor would detect if he starts ranting for prolonged periods of time or if he’s in a Zoom meeting that gets too heated. We thought that was pretty neat.

[Brandon] used an off-the-shelf chest strap heart rate monitor to save himself a bit of time in trying to build his own. The device sends heart rate data to an nRF52840 over Bluetooth and then pushes the data to the cloud using a Blues Wireless Notecard. The Notecard also offers data encryption which gave [Brandon] some added peace of mind knowing his biometric data wasn’t floating around in the cloud without any sort of protection. This certainly isn’t medical-grade encryption, but it gave him a bit of comfort, nonetheless. All that data is processed in his custom-designed web app and when the appropriate thresholds are reached, he sends a text message to himself using Twilio reminding him to relax and unwind for a bit.

For his next iteration, [Brandon] might try making his own heart rate monitor. But until then, stay safe everybody, and remember to take a break whenever you need it.

10 thoughts on “A Stress Monitor Designed Specifically To Help You Work From Home

  1. I’m glad to see people trying to find solutions to these problems, but so many flaws with this implementation.
    * Wearing a bluetooth device to monitor heart rate — OK, this seems reasonable
    * A dedicated MCU to monitor the bluetooth data — um, why not just use the computer (or cell phone) that is at the heart of the problem.
    * Sending the data to the cloud — WHY? You have a PC and Cellphone that can do everything you need for this.
    * AES encryption — YAY, securing personal data is a honking great idea! Of course, you could just process it locally and not need the encryption.
    * Custom application — nice
    * Text notifications to tell you to relax — WTF!!! These are part of the problem!
    * Stress of monitoring your stress levels and ensure all the parts continue to function. — Troubleshooting your stress reduction system is always therapeutic. /s

    My solution would be to set a timer and every hour, put the cellphone down by the PC, get up and walk away for a few minutes. Less exciting data wise, but more effective.

  2. I just measure my stress by how many times a day I hurl something against the wall and it explodes (the thing, not the wall, that is usually just gouged), 5 or less and I’m fine.

  3. Neat project! My apple watch reminds the stand up and move me if i sit for more than an hour. I get these reminders more often now that i work mostly from home. It also has a heart-rate alert currently set at more than 120bpm while it doesn’t record any strenuous movement. I am curious if it would correlate with the feeling of stress if i lower the threshold. Noise is also measured, but i like to listen to music while i work, so that would not be an indicator for me.
    The thing i need to build is a detector to remind me to drink enough water, stress makes you sweat ;)

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