App launched to analyse moods

Researchers at Cambridge University have developed an app that will track user’s happiness through a combination of sensors and usage.

The app, known as EmotionSense, will collect information from the user, such as where they are, how noisy the environment is, and with whom they are communicating. The app also asks the user for their own report on their mood. This data is combined for an overall result.

The aim of the app is to see how mobile phones can be used to improve health and wellbeing.

Many mood tracking apps are already available on the market, but the team from Cambridge Computer Laboratory think this is the first time that user input data and phone information sources have been used together.

Dr Jason Rentfrow is a senior lecturer of psychology at Cambridge University, he said: “Most other attempts at software like this are coarse-grained in terms of their view of what a feeling is.

“Many just look at emotions in terms of feeling happy, sad, angry or neutral. The aim here is to use a more flexible approach, to collect data that shows how moods vary between people. That is something which we think is quite unique to the system we have designed.”

Once the app is opened the user will be required to complete a short life satisfaction survey, which will unlock a sensor.

It will take a user around eight weeks to unlock all sensors, which include their movements, location, how they interact with their mobile phone and how sociable they are depending on how many calls or texts they make.

Lead researcher Dr Neal Lathia said the app has been designed to create a journey for user, as they should be able to determine what is affected their mood. He said: They may say that they are feeling happy but they may have stopped communicating with friends, for example. This is all about building a bridge between the two sources of data.”

It is hoped the app will be used by doctors as a therapeutic tool, as well as individuals, to work out the time that they are most stressed.

The app is available on Android phones, and will soon be released on other smart phones. A user must consent to their data being used by members of the team, but will not be widely available.

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