News: App could help detect mental health trouble
Worried about a loved one’s mental well-being? There is, of course, an app for that. Researchers at the University of
Worried about a loved one’s mental well-being? There is, of course, an app for that.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health Systems are developing a mood-detecting app that will help identify changes in a person’s behaviour just by analyzing their voice.
While it’s still in the very early stages of testing before it will be ready to be used by the public, researchers hope that the app, named PRIORI, will one day be able to help notify caregivers or health care professionals when someone suffering from bipolar, and eventually other mental health conditions, has had a change in their mood.
The app works by monitoring a patient’s voice pattern during any calls they make from their phone. Only the patient’s side of the phone conversation is recorded. "The computer then analyzes the characteristics of the sounds ‘ and silences’ of each conversation," reads a report on the university’s website, uofmehealth.org. But there’s no need to worry about privacy: "The recordings themselves are encrypted and kept off-limits to the research team. They can see only the results of computer analysis of the recordings, which are stored in secure servers that comply with patient privacy laws," the report also says.
They UofM team is currently studying 60 American patients. The more patients who volunteer, the more the team can study, but so far, the findings have been encouraging.
‘These pilot study results give us preliminary proof of the concept that we can detect mood states in regular phone calls by analyzing broad features and properties of speech, without violating the privacy of those conversations,’ said Dr. Zahi Karam, one of the leaders of the project, in an article posted on the UofM Health Systems site.
What do you think of this technology?
-Jessica Harding, associate web editor