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Title: An Empirical Study Comparing Unobtrusive Physiological Sensors for Stress Detection in Computer Work
Several unobtrusive sensors have been tested in studies to capture physiological reactions to stress in workplace settings. Lab studies tend to focus on assessing sensors during a specific computer task, while in situ studies tend to offer a generalized view of sensors’ efficacy for workplace stress monitoring, without discriminating different tasks. Given the variation in workplace computer activities, this study investigates the efficacy of unobtrusive sensors for stress measurement across a variety of tasks. We present a comparison of five physiological measurements obtained in a lab experiment, where participants completed six different computer tasks, while we measured their stress levels using a chest-band (ECG, respiration), a wristband (PPG and EDA), and an emerging thermal imaging method (perinasal perspiration). We found that thermal imaging can detect increased stress for most participants across all tasks, while wrist and chest sensors were less generalizable across tasks and participants. We summarize the costs and benefits of each sensor stream, and show how some computer use scenarios present usability and reliability challenges for stress monitoring with certain physiological sensors. We provide recommendations for researchers and system builders for measuring stress with physiological sensors during workplace computer use.
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