Digital Phenotype

With smartphones and smart devices now ubiquitous in most Australian homes, a review by the Black Dog Institute undertaken with support from the Mindgardens Neuroscience Network has identified how these technologies can be used to identify, prevent and help treat mental illness.

Published September 6, 2019 in npj Digital Medicine, the review presents a vision for how data generated automatically and continuously by smart devices – such as smartphone-measured sleep continuity and typing fluency – can provide valuable information to mental health professionals about mental illness symptom severity and relapse.

The new science of ‘digital phenotyping’ uses data collected from smart devices to build a rich, personalised digital picture of behaviour, track markers of depression and anxiety, and develop new ways to diagnose illness, choose effective treatments and detect relapse before it occurs.

In addition to providing thorough and unbiased data, the review outlines how those experiencing mental ill-health may also benefit from digital phenotyping when paired with personalised treatments and digital therapies.

Having already developed technologies to pick up signals for both Android and iOS phones, Black Dog Institute and Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2) are currently building a platform to begin the process of developing a Digital Phenotype bank.

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