Personal Sensing

Inferring mental health with sensor data from smartphones and other personal digital devices.

Personal sensing refers to collecting and analysing data from sensors embedded in our everyday devices, such as our phones, wearables, and computers, with the aim of identifying an individual’s moment-by-moment contexts, behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. These tools present a historically unique opportunity to capture the in-context mental health care needs of young people without any additional burden on them. To give just a couple of examples, increased typing speed and pressure detected via mobile phone keypad sensors can indicate situational anxiety, while a reduction in social contact and movement detected via Bluetooth and geolocation sensors can indicate the onset of a depressive episode.

Through our close partnership with the University of Melbourne's Interaction Design Lab in the School of Computing and Information Systems, our team at Orygen Digital uses a smartphone sensing app called AWARE. This system allows us to passively sense young people’s activities as they go about their daily lives, including movement, social contact, phone use, and sleep. We are currently investigating ways of safely and respectfully harnessing these tools to better understand young people’s patterns of behaviour and wellbeing, and thereby deliver them the best possible treatment at the best possible moment. If successful, this endeavour has the potential to transform our current models of treatment delivery, from a self-service one-size-fits-most model to one of proactive highly personalised care.

Projects using this solution: PRODIGY