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How Are You Feeling Today? A New Mood-Measuring App Can Tell You

A new mood-sensing app could help people track their emotions and their emotional triggers.

Feeling stressed out? Angry? Happy? Not sure how you’re feeling? Soon there will be an app that will help you identify and track your moods.

Xpression, developed by U.K.-based EI Technologies, is a mood-sensing app intended to enable people to track their emotions as well as what triggers them.

"We are the heart rate monitor of mood," says Matt Dobson, cofounder of EI Technologies (EI for "Emotional Intelligence"). "This is potentially a massive opportunity for people who want to monitor their own health."

The app, which will initially be introduced in health care settings, could be ready for consumer use (initially in Android, with iOS to follow) sometime next year.

Xpression does not listen to users’ words, but rather, how they are speaking. "The initial technology recognizes acoustic features within speech like pitch, intensity, frequency, and changes in those quantitates when you talk," explains Dobson. "When did your emotion change? What happened at that point in time?"

Many therapists use mood diaries to help patients dealing with anxiety or depression determine what triggers various emotional responses. Xpression could be useful in therapeutic settings to replace mood diaries, which rely on patients self-monitoring and recording their mood throughout the day.

Through voice-based recognition technology, the new app can record whenever a user talks and generate a mood log at the end of the day.

"Emotion is a key measure of your health," says Dobson. "You can think 'I haven’t had a very good day,' but why is that? At what point did it turn bad or did you start out grumpy?"

Although some users might balk at the idea of exposing their emotions to a smartphone, Dobson says the app isn’t so different than other apps that monitor the human body, such as sleep monitoring apps or exercise apps. He suspects it will appeal to devotees of the Quantified Self movement, which emphasizes self-knowledge through numbers.

At the moment, Xpression only tracks basic emotions (angry, happy, sad) and is not meant to be a diagnostic tool (or replace your shrink!). "It doesn’t add a layer of intelligence. It simply reports the data from the individual back to the individual," says Dobson. "It’s like a thermometer."

Users could examine their app-generated mood diary at the end of the day or, it’s also possible that, at some point, the app could provide real-time feedback.

"There are a lot of occasions when people are caught up in the moment and stressed and angry. By being alerted that they’re experiencing these emotions, it could make them calm down," says Dobson. "You could get a text message or an alert that says, 'chill out!'"

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