You probably visit your doctor for a checkup when you’re feeling unwell, but what about mental health? In light of the significant advances in medical knowledge we’ve made over the past decade, everyone should be curious to know whether they are going through life in a healthy state of mind.
It’s difficult and generally not recommended for people to try to self-diagnose mental illnesses. But what if your smartphone could monitor your mental state and notify you if it seems things are a little out-of-sorts? It might sound like science fiction, but this type of technology could be among us soon.
Introducing Transformative Technology
Just when you thought that things like cryptocurrency and robotics were the only new terms, you would need to study up on for your next decade as a human, welcome to transformative technology.
No, it’s not the subject of the latest Michael Bay film. Transformative technology is a new area of high-tech, targeted at helping people make lifestyle decisions through interaction with devices they use every day. It starts with an app on your smartphone, but the industry has the potential to expand far beyond personal devices.
Imagine a service no different from the app you might use for banking or tracking your fitness. You check in on a regular basis and receive advice on different techniques or lifestyle changes that might lead to a happier, healthier you.
Reliable And Positive Changes
Nichol Bradford, co-founder of Sofia University’s Transformative Technology Lab, recently shared some of the thinking behind this new technology with mental health journal SingularityHub. It might give privacy aficionados the jitters, but then the days of privacy are far gone.
Bradford gave the example of a new app called Ginger.io. Once installed on your phone, the app requests permission to collect data during your phone calls. But what is it listening for?
Ginger takes a short while to establish a baseline for each user. After it knows its host well enough, the app begins to analyze changes in speech patterns and tone of voice. It can tell if you’re depressed, stressed out or feeling confident.
While the app can analyze your data, it isn’t yet advanced enough to provide reliable advice. However, it will connect you with coaches from the mental health industry who can provide advice and make suggestions. In a world where patients might wait for a month to get an opening with their therapist, this type of treatment could be highly effective.
You’re Not Imagining This
As with so many things in the tech community, we are already living with the first generation of transformative tech. Sleep tracking programs, for instance, are already quite popular and have been built to integrate with some of the more popular fitness tracking accessories on the market.
Meditation apps are another example of transformative tech you can find in the app store today. Bhuddify, for example, offers an easy-to-use introduction to meditation that can teach newcomers or provide new approaches even to those experienced in meditation. Similar app Headspace was created by a former monk and features high production-value animations that explain the core concepts of meditation to help the uninitiated learn about how to be more mindful.
Other apps are more singularly focused on specific conditions. For example, PTSD coach is aimed at working to improve the condition of those who’ve been through traumatic experiences and is approved by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. SAM, short for Self-Help and Anxiety Management, is intended to be a rapid-response tool for those who suffer from anxiety, providing them an outlet as near as their smartphone.
Kind Of Makes Sense, Doesn’t It?
When you consider all of the areas of our life that we invite technology into, mental health doesn’t seem like a bad idea. In fact, there are few places we can place our energy that will have more overall positive results.
Because mental health is a field many people don’t fully understand, we have in many ways neglected to put the time in. With the help of new technology, that could all change. Perhaps transformative technology can play a role in turning the tide of some of today’s stress-inducing issues, for individuals, and for the world at large.