It's a Catch 22 that people with mental health disorders which affect their memory, mood and attention are expected to keep diaries of how their brain is doing day to day. Not to mention the fact that the medication for their condition might also affect memory and cognition and appointments with psychiatrists and doctors might be three or six months apart. It's a problem.
Looking to solve this is Cognition Kit, a new wearable platform from UK-based Cambridge Cognition and Ctrl Group. It has initially been designed to work with the Apple Watch and Microsoft Band 2 but will be developed for all major wearable tech devices.
Essentially, it allows wearers to keep tabs on their mood (by selecting one of six faces - similar to Pebble's Happiness app) as well as perform "micro tests" to track their memory, attention and reaction speed at different times of the day.
So, for instance, during Cambridge Cognition's two week study, people wore a Band 2 to measure stress via its heart rate and galvanic skin response sensors as well as took part in the game-like tests.
One for researchers
Like Apple's moves with its CareKit and ResearchKit platforms, the wearable software is designed to be used not only by the individual in place of a diary but also shared with doctors and scientists. The team says that over 30 million data points were recorded during the short study - we're sure mental health researchers would love to get their hands on this.
Cambridge Cognition - made up of PhD scientists and software designers - presented its findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference and it's now looking to partner with healthcare providers and pharmaceuticals to roll the platform out. Alzheimer's, in particular, is one of the diseases being targeted by researchers looking to use wearables and smartphones to monitor patients at home.
The neuroscience startup's bold ambitions include helping to provide data for the development of new treatments and reducing the burden of mental health on individuals and health services.
Ben Fehnert, director and co-founder of Ctrl Group, said: "Simple, regular interaction with people's own phones and wearable devices is key to helping understand daily and longer term fluctuations in cognitive function."