As we have become more dependent on smartphones they have gone from simple means of communication to tracking devices and social monitors.The movement harnessing data collected by your smartphone or personal technology is known as Quantified Self.
It is currently best known for it’s use in diet and fitness apps for example Nike+ FuelBand or the Apple Watch. However similar apps have also been developed for contraception, family planning and now mental health.
Ginger.io was developed in Massachusetts. It takes the principle of Quantified Self and applies it to health monitoring. It’s first commercial products are designed for depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The app can be downloaded for iPhone and Android.
It collects data in two ways: Passively by monitoring things your phone can record automatically like how often you, exercise, sleep or text friends. And actively by asking how your feeling and to recording it daily.
The creators claim this data can be used in two ways. Firstly if someone doesn’t get out of bed or contact anyone it may indicate a slump in mood. This can send off an alert to the users chosen parties be that doctors, friends or family. Then they know just to send a text or drop by to check out how the user is doing.
Secondly the daily self assessment maps how the user has been feeling over the course of a week or a month, since when you see the doctor it can be difficult to remember your overall well being. This also has the potential to help identify triggers and patterns.
Early results from the US indicate it may improve outcomes for users through early intervention. However for many the app may presents serious privacy and data protection issues.