Researchers at Cambridge University have developed an Android app naned 'Emotion Sense,' which tracks your happiness using a combination of smartphone data and users' perception of mood.
Plenty of mood-tracking software has existed before; but Emotion Sense has a key trick up its sleeve. This free app, available for Android, takes advantage of the fact that smartphones are increasingly capable of collecting information about where we are, how noisy our environment is, how much we are moving around, and who we communicate with.
This data is analysed alongside the user’s own report about their mood, which is entered through a system designed by psychologists to accumulate a precise record about what exactly drives your changes in emotion. From time-to-time, the app will pop up and ask the user to rate how they're, and add to this growing database of daily moodswings.
Simply put, Emotion Sense aims to use your smartphone as your pocket therapist, precisely cataloguing what exactly makes you feel most happy or sad, stressed or relaxed, etc.
“Behind the scenes, smartphones are constantly collecting data that can turn them into a key medical and psychological tool. Any smartphone now comes with numerous sensors that can tell you about aspects of your life, like how active you are, or how sociable you have been in the past 24 hours. In the long term, we hope to be able to extract that data so that, for example, it can be used for therapeutic purposes,” Dr Neal Lathia, a research associate in the University’s Computer Laboratory, explained.
As this is an extension of The University of Cambridge's lab-based investigations, in which participants recorded their feelings in diaries, Emotion Sense is a live research project into this area. What drives people's moods in their day-to-day lives? And, more importantly, can a smartphone be realistically used to record this type of data?
If all is successful, this could prove particularly valuable for helping people who need specialist psychological support.
“Most people who see a therapist may only have an appointment once every fortnight,” Dr Cecilia Mascolo, a reader in mobile systems at the Cambridge Computer Lab said. “Many, however, keep their phones with them most of the time. In terms of sheer presence, mobiles can provide an ongoing link with a person.”