Researchers want to turn your iPhone into a mood ring


Your iPhone could soon track your mood as well as your steps.
Photo: Apple

Your Apple devices might be able to help you track steps, workouts and more, but as of yet no iPhone, Apple Watch (or, let’s face it, any other gadget out there) has been able to accurately measure mental and emotional conditions.

That could be changing due to the so-called “Mood Challenge” program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program calls for researchers and technologists to come up with a way of convincingly tracking mood using an iPhone and ResearchKit — and it’s just announced its five semi-finalists.

To take part in the Mood Challenge, participants had to submit proposals for ResearchKit studies “that will further our understanding of mood, its correlates, and its relation to social context through the novel interpretation of signals from iPhone, related sensors, and other data sources.”

The five short-listed proposals will each receive $20,000 and go onto the next stage of the competition — with two finalists eventually chosen in October to receive $100,000, and the chance to pilot their prototype with iPhone users.

The semi-finalist apps include Aware Study, which will measure mood and posttraumatic stress symptoms among the millions of adults living with PTSD; BiAffect, which aims to track mood and neurocognitive functioning in bipolar disorder using keystroke dynamics; Mood Circle, which will use social networking by enlisting friends and companions to help track people’s mood; MoodSync, which examines how daily mood and social environments are associated with aging among family caregivers; and Mood Toolkit, which will use surveys, heart rate monitoring and machine learning.

In all, it sounds a pretty fascinating contest — and one which could have important effects going forward, as health tracking moves beyond a focus on physical health to explore mental health, too. You can find out more about the Mood Challenge here.

Source: ResearchKit