How chronic stress almost caught me

I have used Moodmetric ring on a regular basis for almost two years now.

When I first got to know Moodmetric, my life was not terribly hectic, I did not feel to be particularly stressed. I did not check my stress levels from the Moodmetric app continuously, as there was not much change – figures were quite low, nothing to be alarmed of.

Until last January.

It was already during Christmas break, when I started to notice the first signs. The feeling of hopelessness and a hint of bitterness had started slowly fester inside me. Two and a half years of burdening family life with extreme efficiency had resulted in complete loss of energy. Our family size had undergone significant change few years back, as the number of our kids went from one to three at once. Without a proper safety net, my husband and I had worked like machines to take care of our family. After 2,5 yrs. we were both exhausted and the only thing keeping us sane was being able to go to work to our paid jobs. Yes, it is a bit twisted, that you go to work to recover from family life.

At work my colleagues would have their daily laughs, because I started forgetting things. I would even go to a meeting and be very impressed by a work very nicely done just to hear that I had been part of it. Memory problems showed up.

By the end of January I noticed that I couldn’t pull through my regular kettlebell exercises anymore let alone improving the performance. I was just tired. I wanted to exercise, but I was too tired to get to it.

Then I got my first flu. And a second flu. And a third flu. Soon I noticed that I was the only one in our family getting sick all the time. (By the end of July I had been ill almost ten times.) My immune system had failed me.  

In March I decided to take a personal risk as I threw in my lot with the Moodmetric team. I became a co-owner in the company. Becoming an entrepreneur was something I had always dreamt of, but I had little doubts about the timing. It was a great move for me, but I knew that the positive stress – excitement – could be a challenging combination with the cumulated stress from the family circus. Would I be able to unwind from all the positive stress ahead me?

In April it became obvious to me that my overall stress levels were higher than usual. Wearing the Moodmetric ring, I had data to back this up – I could witness the change in figures from the app. I was alerted, but not afraid, because I am a very good sleeper and felt that I got the recovery I need. In overall I was optimistic about the future.

The spring 2016 and early summer were hectic and exciting. We were rewriting the company vision and strategy, and talking to loads of people with to get feedback. What we heard was so supporting that at times I couldn’t restrain myself from working unreasonable hours. On the other hand, I had started to question my work performance and felt like I was not working enough. I knew I had gone into overdrive a big time, but was hoping that I could make it to my summer vacation.

When July and summer vacation started, I breathed freely again – I had made it to the safety zone and now I could unwind and recover!

Only, that feeling lasted for a short moment, because sleep disorders kicked in. I started having problems with falling asleep and my heart would race for anxiety. Bedtime became one of my least favorite time of the day, because I was afraid I couldn’t fall asleep.

Needless to say, summer vacation came in too late. I had neglected my recovery and crossed the line that I didn’t wish to. I am well aware that one shouldn’t play with sleep disorders. My Moodmetric daily diagrams were screaming red. That is when I decided to start adding more unwinding moments to my everyday life and not just wait for the next vacation. I did not want to welcome chronic stress into my life.

In short, the lifestyle and behavior changes I adopted are mindfulness exercises, less heavy exercise and replacing with long walks, adding micronutrients, prioritizing sleep, etc. I will write down how I tackled chronic stress in very much detail in my next blog, due out soon!

Part 2 can now be read here

Picture: Pixabay

Electrodermal activity measured by the Moodmetric ring

Electrodermal activity

With any sympathetic nervous system activation, skin reacts and becomes a better conductor of electricity. This can result from emotional, cognitive or other psychological origin. The phenomenon is known as electrodermal activity (EDA) and it is widely adopted in psychological research (1). Other commonly used terms for this phenomenon are skin conductance response and galvanic skin response.

EDA is generated by the activity of the sweat glands.  Moodmetric measures the palmar skin on your finger. The palmar skin is the recommended EDA measurement location, since it has the highest eccrine sweat gland density (2). You can measure EDA elsewhere as well but the reliability is not as high or as easily achieved.

The unconscious actions of the human body are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. It consists of the sympathetic part and the parasympathetic part. The parasympathetic part controls the body’s rest-and-digest functions and the sympathetic part controls the fight-or-flight reactions. With EDA, we can examine the latter.

The sweat glands are exclusively innervated by the sympathetic nervous system. This makes EDA an ideal measure for sympathetic activation (2). Electrodermal activity correlates to general cognitive and emotional intensity, and high responses are caused by e.e. stress, enthusiasm, anxiety, joy, anger (1, 3).

Mobile EDA devices have been used by scientists for some time (2, 4). The Moodmetric ring is an unobtrusive option to follow EDA responses real-time and in long term.

Signal accuracy

The signal accuracy has been proven in a study of 24 people by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health by J. Torniainen et al.. The accuracy against a laboratory grade reference was found to be 83 %. They conclude:

“Clearly the ring sensor can be used to measure a valid EDA signal as indicated by the similarity of both event-related responses and the calculated features. The accuracy of the Moodmetric EDA Ring is adequate for psychological and physiological research when weighted against the advantage of conducting ecologically valid experiments outside laboratory conditions.”

The results were accepted for publication in the 2015 conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC 2015, August 25-29).

The Moodmetric measurement has also been proven to be accurate by THe University of Tampere, Finland. The correlation with the reference equipment Nexus-10-MK II was good. Comparison details in charts below.

With skin conductance level (SCL) we refer here to raw measured skin conductance without any filtering. The figures below show the comparison of the two devices. 

References

1 Mendes, W.B. (2009). Assessing the autonomic nervous system. In: Harmon-Jones   E. ja Beer J.S. Methods in social neuroscience. New York: Guilford Press. p. 118-147.

2 Setz C., Arnrich B., Schumm J. and La R. (2010) Discriminating Stress From Cognitive Load Using a Wearable EDA Device. IEEE Trans. Inf. Technol. Biomed. 14(2). p. 410-417.

3 Nikula R. (1991) Psychological correlates of nonspecific skin conductance responses. Psychophysiology. 28(1). p.86-90.

4 Poh M.Z, Swenson N.C. and Picard R.W. (2010) A Wearable Sensor for Unobtrusive, Long-Term Assessment of Electrodermal Activity. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng. 57(4). p. 1243-1252.

 

 

The Moodmetric technology in research

The Moodmetric ring and app are the simplest solution to measure stress and excitement. Take the benefit of the Moodmetric continuous measurement and real-time feedback to support your research.

pic for measurement

The Moodmetric ring is developed to analyze the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, ie. the fight-or-flight reaction. This can be detected through the skin conductance response measurement. It is best done from the palmar skin or fingers, which makes the ring form perfect to obtain accurate data.

Where can the electrodermal activity measurement be applied

This phenomen of electrodermal activity / galvanic skin response has been an input for research for over hundred years. It is used in large extent for instance in
– Psychological research
– Clinical research & psychotherapy
– Media & advertising testing
– Consumer neuroscience & marketing
– Usability testing & UX design

How the Moodmetric ring is used

The Moodmetric ring is a non-intrusive way to measure the electrodermal activity, which enables long term measurement outside a laboratory setting. The ring is worn as a normal ring. It connects to a smartphone app via bluetooth smart and real-time measurement works within 5m radius.
The app shows the electrodermal responses measured by the ring and the output of the signal analysis which is the Moodmetric index (0…100).  In addition, the Moodmetric number among other data, so the ring can be worn without phone connection. The data can be synced any time.
Direct data streaming from the ring to Windows PC is possible with a BLE dongle. This enables also access to EDA raw data.

In addition to EDA sensors, there is a three axis accelerometer inside the Moodmetric ring. This enables for example measuring the step count, that is included in the app.

The measuring and output

Due to the advanced signal analysis methods to derive the Moodmetric index, the measurement works for everyone. It adapts to the typical level of the person using the ring. The ring learns the levels of the user, becomes personal, and always gives a number between 0 and 100, with a typical activation level of 50. If the user changes you can reset and the learning starts from the beginning.

The algorithm also includes an advanced artefact rejection. The electrodes touch the skin and even if your hand moves the algorithm rejects the disturbances in the signal caused by the electrode movement.

The Moodmetric measurement accuracy and current use in research

The Moodmetric ring feasibility for research has been verified by the Finnish Institute of Occupational health.
Link to the EMBC ´15 conference paper.
It has been used in following research programs:

Pop up, 2015-2016

‘Pop up  – knowledge work productivity’ research project provides new research results, practical methods and measurement tools for developing knowledge work productivity and well-being at work. Knowledge work is analyzed through a work system including physical, virtual, social and emotional environments. This project develops and utilizes participatory Pop up –method for designing and testing new work environments and practices that provides more productive ways of working. In addition, the project develops metrics and measurement tools for analyzing the impacts of new work designs. Mobile devices, sensors and applications are utilized to study fluency and experienced well-being and productivity of knowledge work.

Project’s multidisciplinary team comprises researchers from Tampere University of Technology (TUT) and Aalto University. The project is carried out in close collaboration with industry partners: Tampere Region Economic Development Agency Tredea, Arkkitehtitoimisto Helamaa&Heiskanen, University Properties of Finland Ltd, Martela and Moodmetric.

Contact persons:
TUT Novi research center: Maiju Vuolle, maiju.vuolle(at)tut.fi
TUT Human-centered technology: Kaisa Väänänen, kaisa.vaananen(at)tut.fi
TUT School of Architecture: Jenni Poutanen, jenni.poutanen(at)tut.fi
Aalto Virtual and mobile work research unit: Matti Vartiainen, matti.vartiainen(at)aalto.fi

DEEVA, 2016 -2019

DEEVA project utilizes the opportunities of digitalization to create value from data and to develop new, customer driven service products and methods which support value co-creation and that are based on deep understanding of customer experience.

The research question is as follows: what kinds of means, modes and contexts combining data, emotions and experiences digitalization enables. The project is carried out with a large and versatile network of enterprises. The participating 20 companies vary in size and industry, e.g. energy, media, bank, ICT, real estate, commercial and service sectors are represented in the project.  Multisectoral group of enterprises enhance both co-learning and gaining new insights into the research topic.

The project is executed by a multidisciplinary research consortium of three universities: Tampere University of Technology, Turku University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University of Applied Sciences in co-operation with six international universities.  In addition to knowledge and publications for different target groups the project will create tools and applications for measuring customer experience and analyzing emotion data in real-time. The information provided by the tools and applications can be used in everyday activities of companies to support e.g. management of multi-channeled service environment and development of new service products and co-creative ecosystems.

Contact persons:
TUT Novi research center: Nina Helander, nina.helander(at)tut.fi
TUAS AADI Research group: Harri Jalonen, harri.jalonen(at)turkuamk.fi
TAMK Mediapolis: Leena Mäkelä, leena.makela(at)tamk.fi

Moodmetric at Emotion Hack Day

 

Emohackkollaasi

The University of Helsinki celebrated its 375th anniversary with the Helsinki Challenge competition, that was launched in 2014.

The competion received more than 140 registrations, and after a long selection process – including startup-type pitching –  the winner was selected at the end of 2015.

NEMO – Natural Emotionality in Digital Interaction,  received €250,000 for realising the team’s idea: to add empathy to the internet.

Digital systems are not designed to consider emotions. As a result, the tools we have for expressing our emotions online are severely lacking in quality. This in turn inhibits empathy, the mechanisms that allow people to understand each other, connect and collaborate.

The research team including Katri Saarikivi, Tommi Makkonen and Valtteri Wikström have a huge task in front of them. Part of their project is to include others with events like the Emotion Hack Day, that Moodmetric was also invited to participate.

The event took place simultaneously in Helsinki and Montreal, and gathered talented people from all work backgrounds to spend 24 hours to generate ideas around digitalizing emotions.

hackdaybegin2

Moodmetric sponsored the event with the Moodmetric rings and SDKs for teams interested in using GSR in their project:

‘It is always fun to work with a new wearable technology and think of how it can be leveraged in every day life. Also, working with a company that takes pride in making the data interface easy to work with is refreshing, since it allows us to focus on the creative aspects, instead of the device interface.’  -André

The submissions are one step towards online presence – with emotions.

Where to measure electrodermal activity?

This article explains the difference of using a wristband or a ring to measure your emotional intensity levels.

Moodmetric rings

Many things can get you emotionally activated. A close by situation with a colliding car can certainly light all the inner alarm systems, but milder things can also cause strong emotional reactions: seeing your children after a school day, a victory of you favourite basketball team or forgetting to buy paper for your printer.

With any emotional activation, your skin reacts and becomes a better conductor of electricity. This can be resulting from emotional or other psychological causes. The phenomenon is known as the skin conductance response or electrodermal activity (EDA). You may also run into an older term called galvanic skin response.

Based on the scientific research there are only a few places in your body where the EDA can be measured accurately and easily: the palms and the soles of your feet. These are the places where human body has the highest density of eccrine sweat glands that response to the emotional stimuli. You can measure the EDA elsewhere as well but the reliability is not as high or as easily achieved.

We want to bring to the market a very reliable and accurate measurement of emotional activation and intensity that is available for everybody. The choice for having a beautiful jewelry ring as the measurement form was an easy one.

It provides the best optimal measurement data that can be detected from the palm side of wearer’s hand. A ring is also a natural thing to wear and can be used daily as any other jewelry. It is easy to forget that this small, beautiful and non-intrusive jewelry detects your emotional levels and helps you in your life with its data.

What is moodtech? – Science behind Moodmetric

Moodmetric measures the electrodermal activity (EDA) of the skin, which is widely adopted in psychological research 1. EDA is generated by activity of the sweat glands.  Moodmetric measures the palmar skin on your finger. The palmar skin is the recommended EDA measurement location, since it has the highest sweat gland density2.

The unconscious actions of the human body are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. It consists of the sympathetic part and the parasympathetic part. The parasympathetic part controls the body’s rest-and-digest functions and the sympathetic part controls fight-or-flight reactions. When bodily functions are not of interest and the emotional side is, sympathetic nervous system is your choice.

The sweat glands are exclusively innervated by the sympathetic nervous system. This makes EDA an ideal measure for sympathetic activation.2 Electrodermal activity correlates to general emotional intensity, negative emotion, concern, and anxiety. 1, 3 These emotions cause almost similar electrodermal responses, which makes them very hard to differentiate. However, Moodmetric will tell you if certain parts of your day have brought up emotions or not. Inversely, Moodmetric tells you weather you are calm or not. This is particularly useful during your mindfulness, meditation and other calming exercises.

Mobile EDA devices have been used by scientists for some time2, 4, and now we bring this technology within everyone´s reach.

Signal accuracy

The signal accuracy has been proven in a study of 24 people by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health by J. Torniainen et al.. The accuracy against a laboratory grade reference was found to be 83 %. They conclude:

“Clearly the ring sensor can be used to measure a valid EDA signal as indicated by the similarity of both event-related responses and the calculated features. The accuracy of the Moodmetric EDA Ring is adequate for psychological and physiological research when weighted against the advantage of conducting ecologically valid experiments outside laboratory conditions.”

The results have been accepted for publication in the 2015 conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC 2015, August 25-29).

Our measurement has been proven to be accurate also by University of Tampere, Finland. The correlation with the reference equipment Nexus-10-MK II was good. Comparison details in charts below.

image1 image2 image3 image4

1 Mendes, W.B. (2009). Assessing the autonomic nervous system. In: Harmon-Jones   E. ja Beer J.S. Methods in social neuroscience. New York: Guilford Press. p. 118-147.

2 Setz C., Arnrich B., Schumm J. and La R. (2010) Discriminating Stress From Cognitive Load Using a Wearable EDA Device. IEEE Trans. Inf. Technol. Biomed. 14(2). p. 410-417.

3 Nikula R. (1991) Psychological correlates of nonspecific skin conductance responses. Psychophysiology. 28(1). p.86-90.

4 Poh M.Z, Swenson N.C. and Picard R.W. (2010) A Wearable Sensor for Unobtrusive, Long-Term Assessment of Electrodermal Activity. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng. 57(4). p. 1243-1252.

 

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