What Your Smartphone Knows That Your Mother Doesn’t

What Your Smartphone Knows That Your Mother Doesn’t

Can Your Smartphone Be Used to Detect Depression?

By Suelain Moy

It’s always there, in your pocket or purse or on your desk, quietly collecting information. And apparently, when it comes to depression, there’s quite a lot your smartphone knows about you.

According to a small study from Northwestern Medicine, that data from your smartphone can predict with eerie 87 percent accuracy whether you’re suffering from depression or not.

The telling signs: You spend more time on your smartphone and less time leaving the house, and you visit very few places each day.

Related: Smartphone Notifications Are Killing Our Concentration

The researchers used Craigslist to find 40 test subjects between the ages of 19 and 58, and outfitted their smartphones with an app to monitor their location and usage. The individuals took a questionnaire that measured signs of depression; half of the subjects had troubling symptoms and half did not. Using GPS, the phones tracked the subjects’ movements and locations every five minutes. The subjects also were asked questions about their mood at different points during the day.

These factors were then correlated with the test subjects’ original depression test scores. And the results were uncanny. Depressed people used their phones more often and for longer periods of time —an average of 68 minutes a day. By comparison, the individuals who didn’t show signs of depression spent only 17 minutes on theirs. Researchers attributed the increased use of the phone to task avoidance, another symptom of depressed people.

Perhaps more significant than the findings of this small study — only 28 of the 40 subjects had enough data to be studied — is the potential the researchers felt that smartphones could play in future medical diagnosis.

When loaded up with the correct sensors, the smartphone can be used to detect a person’s emotional states, and monitor moods, without the user having to utter a word. It also has the ability to offer suggestions to reinforce positive behaviors when depression is detected. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research yesterday, but one conclusion was becoming increasingly evident even before the report came out: Smartphones — and the sensors they now contain — just keep getting smarter.

Chart of the Day: Long Way to Go on Coronavirus Testing

Healthcare workers with ChristianaCare test people with symptoms of the coronavirus in a drive-thru in the parking lot of Chase
Jennifer Corbett
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.

After Spending $2 Billion, Air Force Bails Out on Planned Upgrades of B-2 Bombers

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber flies over the Missouri Sky after taking off from the Whiteman Air For..
© Hyungwon Kang / Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.

Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”

Big Hurdle for Sanders’ Plan to Cancel Student Debt

Chip East / REUTERS
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.  

The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”

Number of the Day: $7 Million

NY mayor cites climate stance in endorsing Obama
By The Fiscal Times Staff

That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”