David Mohr thinks of his phones as virtual therapists:
“We’re trying to develop individual algorithms for each user that can determine specific states, so their location where they are, their activity, their social context, who they’re with, what they’re engaged in, and their mood,” Mohr said.
For example, if someone has not left his house for several days, the phone will know.
“It can provide them an automated text message, or an automated phone call to make a suggestion to give somebody a call or get out of the house,” Mohr said.
A preliminary phone has already been tested on eight patients, and the results seem to indicate that a phone ‘therapist’ can be a very useful thing, helping to uplift the patients down moods.
“They all had a major depressive disorder when they started, and they were all both clinically and statistically better at the end of the treatment,” he said.
Mohr suggested that this type of technology can be a highly cost-effective method for treating depression. More widespread tests are scheduled for this coming summer.