'Mychiatry' just phone app away

07 January 2014 - 02:27 By KATHARINE CHILD
EAR WIGS: Headphones help DJs monitor their own voices
EAR WIGS: Headphones help DJs monitor their own voices
Image: Times Media

Wake up slowly and record your dreams, or let headphones measure what mood you are in before playing music.

Trendwatchers predict that 2014 is going to be the year of "mychiatry", a term coined to describe the growing trend of people using technology to track their mental health.

Futurist Dion Chang told The Times that people would start to measure their stress levels or state of mind as much as they have been measuring physical health.

Wearable tech devices already allow people to measure how many steps they take in a day, how fit they are or what their blood pressure is. But Chang said mental health would take centre stage as people use websites such as iMoodjournal and moodtracker.com to record their emotional states daily.

Other mental health mobile devices include a cellphone app called the Shadow app that wakes users slowly to give them a chance to remember their dreams. They then record them.

Another app, Sleep talk recorder, allows people to record what they say in their sleep or listen to what may be waking them up at night.

The Mico Headphones developed in Japan sense a person's brainwaves and determine whether they are sleepy, stressed or relaxed. It connects to an app that selects music based on the person's mood.

The latest medical-measuring device to make headlines is a toothbrush that sends data to a smartphone on how effectively the user brushed their teeth.

The toothbrush was released at the annual Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Simon Spurr, the South African CEO of Folup, a company that allows users to collect health data from multiple devices, believes mobile health apps could help users if interpreted correctly, but he did not encourage measuring every aspect of one's wellbeing.

Folup allows users to collect health data from different electronic trackers, including blood pressure trackers, glucose monitors and devices that measure physical activity to create a file for doctors.

It has 6000 patients in South Africa. The application makes sense of health data and presents it in a simple format to doctors.

Spurr said mobile devices could help doctors keep track of patients when necessary, but data needed to be interpreted correctly.

There was a difference between using social media to track one's mood and tracking moods on a platform that could be interpreted by a doctor, he said.

A giant leap for smart socks

First it was Lycra, then mini-computers that tracked your every step. And yesterday, in Las Vegas, in the US, the world's first smart socks were unveiled.

The £100 socks track how a user's foot hits the ground, and the rhythm of each stride and its length.

Over time, the socks' sensors learn how their wearers run. It has also been claimed that they could alert people to the possibility of injury.

The socks use in-built sensors that connect to an ankle bracelet and a phone.

An app will show users heat maps of their footsteps. - ©The Daily Telegraph