Woman with iPhone 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
ITHACA, N.Y. – Your smartphone knows where you go and how fast, while its
microphone hears your voice. Soon, your phone may measure your stress … and help
you to deal with it.
Tanzeem Choudhury, associate professor of computing
and information science, is developing such an application, supported by the
newly created Intel Science and Technology Center (ITSC) for Pervasive
Computing, a collaboration between Cornell and five other universities, managed
by the University of Washington.
Intel’s goal is to develop technologies
capable of continuously learning and adapting to consumers’ needs. Pervasive
Computing ITSC projects include “smart houses” that monitor family activity and
help out in the kitchen, as well as applications like Choudhury’s for mobile
health and mental well-being. Intel is providing funding to support two graduate
students for two years or more for Choudhury’s research.
“There has been
some work on using phones to measure physical activity,” Choudhury said. “But
sensing mental health is [somewhat] under explored.” Previously she has used
mobile sensors to map people’s social networks, a process she calls “reality
She proposes to use the phone’s microphone to monitor stress
levels in speech, with privacy protection to make the actual words
unintelligible. Knowing where and when stressful events occur can lead to advice
on how to avoid them. The tricky part is crafting the advisory
“You have to be really careful how you do the feedback, to make
sure you’re not going to have an adverse effect,” she explained. “There are
subtle ways of engaging a person with a problem.”Choudhury is
collaborating with Deborah Estrin, director of the Center for Embedded Networked
Sensing at the University of California-Los Angeles and a leader of the Open
mHealth project, which aims to use mobile devices to enhance mental health. They
will draw on the advice of physicians and psychiatrists in designing their
applications. She also will work with other researchers in the Pervasive
Computing ITSC to extend her system’s monitoring into the smart
house.Before joining the Cornell faculty this fall Choudhury began her
work on mobile health monitoring at Dartmouth, and she continues to collaborate
with Dr. Ethan Berke at Dartmouth Medical School and Andrew Campbell, professor
of computer science at Dartmouth.