This device is your black box. It monitors who you talk to, how often, what you read, all your social media accounts, your guilty pleasures, your location, your physical activity, your calories, and now it could potentially measure your stress level, at least for Samsung users.
Samsung has updated its S Health app with a feature that allows users to monitor stress levels. How it works is that the user puts a finger to the screen. The heart rate monitor is then used to gather the data that determines the stress of the user. The app stores this data and maps it out over a period of time.
Stress causes health problems, but is little understood. One known symptom of certain types of stress is an increased heart rate, which would be caught by the monitor. Other types may go unnoticed. Also increases in heart rate are not always caused by stress. Exercise can all increase heart rate. A reading of stress could be attributed to a morning run. Caffeine, tobacco, or other legal stimulants may also increase heart rate, making a user potentially appear stressed. However, this information could also have its potential benefits.
While this information may be useful in health settings, such as a doctor’s appointment, where a user can answer and provide a chart of “stress” levels, it could also have some practical uses. Stress up before the presentation in the meeting? Time for a few deep breaths. A repeated spike in stress at a certain point in the average day? Try to see what triggers it. Knowing when a user is showing signs of stress could be highly useful to everyday life. Of course, it could also have other uses for app developers, who could have a new dataset to work with and design apps around, just as they did when they realized that smartphones had the potential to be used as pedometers.
If this data becomes available for use in other apps, it could produce some interesting results. From silly apps like “What color is your mood?” to a slightly more serious “Relaxation Finder” app what could find the nearest yoga class or whatever it takes a user to chill out, this data could have some interesting applications.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 (OTC:SSNLF) already collects heart rate data via this app and by other Samsung Galaxy products. The technology is not hard to create; fitness trackers have been doing it for years. No word on if other Samsung devices will be measuring stress too. For those interested in tracking their health, it’s a boon. For the rest of us, let’s reserve judgment until we see how it works out for them.