I recently ran across two different, new apps in development for smartphones and iPhones, both of which purport to measure a person’s mental health, happiness and even depression completely passively. (“Apps” are tiny pieces of software that run most commonly on portable devices.)
This, of course, is a Big Deal, since one of the major stumbling blocks of the thousands upon thousands of health apps are their need for something or someone to input personal health data. Without personal health data, health and mental health apps are generally pretty useless.
The method to measure one’s psychological well-being (or, as we more commonly refer to it, one’s happiness) passively is to use whatever metrics are available through the phone. Since phones generally only have a limited amount of inputs — voice, video, geo-positioning (GPS), and an accelerometer — your choices as a researcher interested in personal health data are pretty limiting.
Using only these four physical measurements, is it really possible to accurately and reliably measure a person’s well-being? Let’s find out.
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