While there are already apps that give smartphones the capability to track how often you
A new study
out of Northwestern University tracked 40 people with a data-logging app with a sophisticated sensor called Purple Robot
. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire on demographics and patient health regarding depression before their smartphones began tracking their lives.
For two weeks, the app logged GPS and usage data, which told researchers how often the participants were on their phones, how often they moved around or left home and how much they deviated from their daily routines.
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Researchers found that users “with depressive symptoms tend to move less through geographic space,” which makes sense since people with depression tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle, leave the house less frequently and binge-watch shows or movies
. Based on the questionnaire and the data results, researchers found that the participants’ smartphones could reveal symptoms of depression to an accuracy of 86.5%.
David C. Mohr, the study’s lead author and a professor in preventive medicine at Northwestern, explained in the study that this method could be used to “unobtrusively” track patient behavior regarding depression.
(If you or someone you know suffers from depression or has thoughts of inflicting harm upon themselves, help is available by calling 1-800-SUICIDE, or visit Crisis Support Services
for more information.)