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EmoBuddy : stess prevention and reduction through social support augmented with Biofeedback

Stam, L.M. (2011) EmoBuddy : stess prevention and reduction through social support augmented with Biofeedback.

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Abstract:Due to globalization of economy, growing diversity in the workplace and an increased mental workload, occupational stress has become the second biggest source of illness and reduced productivity. EmoBuddy is a concept system that aims to reduce and prevent stress by inducing social support and increase awareness on stress behavior. Central in its design is the role of facilitation of empathy between buddies, by sharing each individual’s real time stress level, derived from wireless skin conductance measurements. Whenever stress levels rise, users are encouraged to contact each other and possibly join in a stress reducing activity (e.g., drink a cup of coffee). This study serves to strengthen the EmoBuddy concept through an iterative design process. In the first part of this study we analyzed the concept thoroughly. We investigated the background from which EmoBuddy commences. We identified two main approaches in handling work-related stress. On the one hand active governance on social support and on the other there are commercially available products which employ biofeedback to monitor stress. EmoBuddy combines the strengths of both approaches. In further analysis of the concept we performed a literature study and conducted 8 expert interviews. This led to the enhancement of the existing prototype. In the second part of the project this prototype was submitted to an extensive user test. 36 participants used the EmoBuddy system for four workdays in full context. After finishing the test the participants were invited to a thirty minute interview. To analyze test results we developed a model of EmoBuddy’s performance. We translated the dependencies depicted in the model into hypothesis. These hypotheses were tested in quest for a proof of principle. Our results showed that EmoBuddy induces desirable behavior: usage induces social support and creates awareness on stress behavior. In the third and last part of this study we focus on the future. Discussing test results leads to recommendations on testing, research and design. We conclude the study with design propositions for the next generation prototype. The balance between social functionality and awareness functionality is slightly shifted towards awareness functionality. In contrast with awareness functionality, we expect that social functionality will not reach its full potential in a work environment as it demands a high level of intimacy between people. But, social functionality is nevertheless very valuable. To underline this we (superficially) explore the social functionality in a different, more personal context.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:20 art studies
Programme:Industrial Design BSc (56955)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/72170
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