aVRaid of Heights? - Exploring Integrated Non-Invasive Sensors For Stress Testing

Weiß, Sebastian and Withoeft, Ani and Heuten, Wilko
Proceedings of ICHI 2020
Stress is a risk factor in safety-critical environments. It increases the probability for errors, which in turn can possibly be detrimental to human health and damaging to materials. While some industries have already turned to stress training in virtual reality (VR), the nursing profession still finds itself in the early stages of adopting the technology. In this paper, we use the already established method of VR induced acrophobia to provoke stress responses. By applying appropriate sensing technologies, the effects on physiological changes in affected vital functions are measured. The VR environment, the sensing technology and the software consist of both off-the-shelf as well as self-built solutions for the collection and evaluation of measurements. These measurements are taken from the participants while they experience a stress inducing factor (height) in two different intensities (view from sixth and 19th floor) in an artificial environment. In addition, we examine a possible correlation between the objective measurements and the subjective self-rated stress using the Short Stress State Questionnaire (SSSQ). Our focus in this work is to obtain reliable stress measurements from a sensor array. The long-term goal is the usage of the same sensors in a nursing-focused environment, with tasks taken directly from the work routines of the nursing profession. While we can’t report significant differences in our evaluations, our results indicate that the tested sensor array for measuring stress is sensitive enough to pick up differences in the stress responses to two distinct intensities of the same stress factor. Based on this knowledge we can continue using this system for VR experiments with environments that closely resemble the actual work environments of nurses. In doing so, we hope to improve the quality-of-life in the nursing profession by enabling better coping techniques with certain occupational stress factors. We further provide insights into what sensors are most suitable for our needs.