We investigate ambient sensing techniques that recognize writer's psychological states by measuring vibrations of handwriting on a desk panel using a piezoelectric contact sensor attached to its underside. In particular, we describe a technique for estimating the subjective difficulty of a question for a student as the ratio of the time duration of thinking to the total amount of time spent on the question. Through experiments, we confirm that our technique correctly recognizes whether or not a person writes something down on paper by measured vibration data at the accuracy of over 80 %, and that the order of computed subjective difficulties of three questions is coincident with that reported by the subject in 60 % of experiments. We also propose a technique to estimate a writer's psychological stress by using the standard deviation of the spectrum of the measured vibration. Results of a proof-of-concept experiment show that the proposed technique correctly estimates whether or not the subject feels stress at least 90 % of the time.
2012 The Society of Instrument and Control Engineers