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Mood-Tracking App Paves Way for Pocket Therapy

A telephone handset displaying a smiley face.

The Emotion Sense smartphone app can mine user data to track feelings and mood shifts.


University of Cambridge researchers have developed Emotion Sense, a smartphone app that mines a user's cellphone data to track their feelings and determine what might be triggering peaks in their mood.

The app takes advantage of smartphones' increasing ability to collect information about the environment. Emotion Sense combines systematically-gathered data from a wide range of sensors with the user’s own report about their mood, which is entered through a system designed by psychologists. By cross-referencing both sets of data, Emotion Sense aims to accumulate a very precise record of what drives people’s emotional peaks.

"In the long term, we hope to be able to extract that data so that, for example, it can be used for therapeutic purposes," says Cambridge researcher Neal Lathia.

After launching Emotion Sense, the app spends about a week collecting data from a single sensor and testing it against the user’s emotional state. The user is then asked to complete a short life-satisfaction survey, which unlocks a new sensor. After about eight weeks, a full range of sensors have been tested.

The researchers are making Emotion Sense's code available as open source to enable other researchers to conduct their own experiments.

From University of Cambridge
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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