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The stress reducing pen


December 21, 2010

The prototype pen, that is reportedly able to identify and reduce stress in its user (Photo: Delft University)

The prototype pen, that is reportedly able to identify and reduce stress in its user (Photo: Delft University)

Industrial Design PhD student Miguel Bruns Alonso from the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology has created a prototype pen that he claims can identify short-term stress in its user, and that can then proceed to alleviate some of that stress. The “anti-stress pen” doesn’t measure a persons heart rate or their galvanic skin response – instead, it detects when it’s being fidgeted with, and gets the user to stop.

According to Alonso, experiments performed in the course of his research indicated that people tend to play with their pens when they’re tense – I know that I tend to do so when I’m bored, but perhaps boredom counts as a type of tension.

Motion sensors in his “anti-stress pen” detect nervous movement, at which point internal electromagnets create a counterweight effect, making the pen more difficult to move. Once the nervous movements stop, so do the effects of the electromagnets. The user is thereby rewarded for ceasing behavior that indicates – and apparently worsens – mental stress.

When the pen was tested on human subjects, those receiving feedback through the device had an average heart rate five percent lower than those who received none. Neither group knew that the pen was designed to provide feedback, and the group that did receive it didn’t claim to feel any less stress than the control group.

“The conclusion to be drawn from this is that products which seek to reduce short-term stress should, preferably, intervene directly to modify that behavior, rather than warning the user about their stress levels, for instance,” said Alonso. “This could allow products to reduce stress in an unobtrusive way.”

Via Delft University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

They should really think not about a pen, but about a mouse - for example. I\'m using pen only several seconds a day. But I hold mouse for much longer time :)

Facebook User

Not playing with my pen would make me even MORE NERVOUS!!!!


It sounds like it is reducing fidgeting not stress. If heart rate goes down because of less movement that doesn\'t mean the person is less stressed or less bored.

That would be like saying a backpack that makes you sit down when it senses you walking reduces stress because your heart rate slows down when seated. Sillyness

Raum Bances

On a side note about ten years ago there was some article that talked about how fidgeters were generaly less overweight because it burns alot of calories.


Sounds like as dumb idea as a hammer that has a really wobbly head and smashes your fingers, to help you aim straightera.

Mr Stiffy
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