Innovation That Matters

Smartphone apps sense users' emotions and quantify wellbeing

Sport & Fitness

Two ventures – the UK's EI Technologies and Soma Analytics from Germany – are offering tools for accurately tracking mood over time.

The increasing power of smartphones enable users to monitor even the smallest details of their lives, from teeth cleaning routines to skin quality. Now two ventures – the UK’s EI Technologies and Soma Analytics from Germany – are offering tools for accurately tracking mood over time. EI Technologies hopes to launch Xpression – an app that uses some of the native features of smartphones to detect when their owners are feeling happy or stressed – to the public once it has trialled it in healthcare settings. It records the speech of users as they go about their day, analyzing the acoustic patterns and looking for attributes – such as pitch, intensity and frequency – that match those commonly found when various emotions are present. Therapists or GPs can then use this information to determine the wellbeing of patients. The recordings can be sent to remote machines that extract the useful data and then delete the files, ensuring privacy. At the same time, Soma Analytics has developed its own app aimed at business managers looking to ensure workforce morale is maintained. It uses similar speech emotion-detecting technology as Xpression, which is activated when an employee makes a phone call. Additionally, typing is monitored for speed and errors – a high rate of each could indicate stress. Finally, the smartphone’s accelerometer is used to detect movement at nighttime to determine if workers are getting enough sleep. By quantifying emotions, patients and workers alike have access to data about their mood patterns and could be able to work out what events trigger negative feelings. Soma suggests that stress in particular plays a factor in over 60% of all illnesses, and finding the root may improve quality of life, as well as productivity. Spotted by: Raymond Neo and Murtaza Patel



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