Makers of an app called Eliza want to make it as easy for people to track their psychological well-being as it is to track their physical fitness.
The Eliza app asks users to record a voice memo, say, venting about an issue they’re dealing with at work or simply reflecting on their day. The app turns the user’s speech into text that’s ready for sentiment analysis.
After each memo is quickly analyzed, Eliza generates an infographic that shows users whether they sound happy and calm, mostly, or maybe stressed and in need of support from friends and therapists. It also lets users see, over time, how they’ve been feeling.
The idea is to get people to counseling, or at least to talk with someone they love and trust before they find themselves dealing with unmitigated and debilitating levels of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.
Developers Kathryn Hodge, a junior at Vassar College, and Tae Hong Min, a senior at Lehigh University, used IBM Watson and Twilio technology to create this app, and built it on Ionic to make it cross-platform from the start.
The students said they don’t want to turn this app into a startup, but will continue to work on it, ideally making it available for free to help mental health researchers.
The duo also said they want to de-stigmatize mental health problems and therapy. “Sometimes you are in self denial that you have an issue, but if you have something in the palm of your hand feeding it back to you, objectively, you can’t deny it,” Min said.
Hodge noted that Eliza also lets users share their information with a licensed therapist. She hopes that charting the data over time can help therapists see what’s working, or not, for their patients and prepare for counseling sessions, among other things.
The team has competed at hackathons before and intends to keep doing so. They were the winners of the best use of VR award at Bitcamp earlier this year for BumbleAidr, a VR app to detect early onset of attention-deficit disorders in users.