Announcing the Mood Challenge Semi-Finalists

We are thrilled to announce the five semi-finalists in the Mood Challenge for ResearchKit, an open source software framework designed by Apple. Each semi-finalist has proposed innovative new ways to use sensors in iPhone to help researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. Proposals aim to bring fresh insights and capabilities around mood, biology, and social context to both researchers and users with new methods for mental health diagnostics, clinical care delivery, daily wellness tracking, and behavioral interventions.

Following review by an expert Review Panel, the Mood Challenge semi-finalists were selected by an esteemed panel of judges with expertise across psychology, health, and technology. Each semi-finalist will receive $20,000 and enter the Virtual Accelerator, which includes an in-person Boot Camp to develop their proposals into designs with support from experts in research, app design, and ResearchKit. In October, two finalists will be selected to receive $100,000 and develop their designs into prototypes that will be piloted with iPhone users.

The Challenge, a New Venture Fund program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and powered by Luminary Labs, launched in April seeking proposals for ResearchKit studies that will further our understanding of mood and how it relates to our daily lives, health, and well-being.

“Despite decades of study, the relationship between mood and the many social and economic factors that affect it remains unclear,” said Paul Tarini, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The semi-finalists’ proposals leverage the revolutionary potential of ResearchKit to help advance research in this field and, ultimately, build a Culture of Health in America.”

Congratulations to the semi-finalists:

Aware Study
The Aware Study will measure mood and posttraumatic stress symptoms among the millions of adults living with PTSD. The study will develop and validate mobile methods, including passive data collection, active tasks, and linguistic analysis, while exploring how social and contextual factors such as connectedness and activity levels can be used to rapidly detect changes in posttraumatic stress symptoms.

BiAffect is a system for understanding mood and neurocognitive functioning in bipolar disorder using keystroke dynamics, such as typing speed and errors, to track and predict mood episodes. Alteration in communication is one of the main, problematic symptoms of bipolar disorder. This study will unobtrusively monitor non-verbal speech/behaviors to improve our understanding of mood disorders and provide a means of predicting future mood fluctuations.

Mood Circle
Mood Circle will improve on mood detection and modeling using passive data tracking and self-reports on mood by incorporating social networking. Users of Mood Circle will enlist their closest companions to track their mood and contribute data to this shared platform, improving the experience and data models for each user while investigating social influences on mood and behavior.

MoodSync will identify how daily mood and social environments are associated with biological aging among family caregivers. This population is at high risk for mental and physical health problems caused by chronic emotional distress. By triangulating assessments of social interactions, mood and affect, and cell aging via saliva collections, MoodSync will improve our understanding of how caregivers can thrive under chronic stress.

Mood Toolkit
Mood Toolkit will provide mental health researchers with a configurable toolkit to study daily emotional health and wellbeing through the ResearchKit framework. The study will combine biometric data from external sensors such as heart rate monitors, with user surveys and machine learning to generate and validate personalized insights and interventions to improve emotional health.

We look forward to seeing how the semi-finalists evolve their studies in this next phase of the Challenge. Stay tuned for the finalist announcement in October!