Around 79% of Brits own a smartphone and we’re checking it on average 28 times a day and over 10,000 times a year. Smartphones have successfully replaced and integrated almost every aspect of our lives; transforming the physical into digital. Our smartphones and the Internet of Things (IoT) are continuously improving, changing and managing the way we live; making our lives easier and safer, and more efficient and connected than ever.
IoT connects physical devices, buildings, and sensors to exchange data in real-time; creating more opportunities for direct integration of the physical world with computer-based systems. From smart wearables, smart homes and smart cars to everything else we use to digitise and enhance the way we live, the possibilities of IoT are limitless. As IoT and smart technology become a central part of our every day, we can recognise the way it can help us manage and treat our mental health. IoT could be one of the keys to improved mental health from accurately monitoring our moods and tracking health, improving communication and providing access to useful online resources.
Our mental health and well-being can be affected by everyday stress and pressures like work and finances, and personal relationships and experiences. Add to these the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, many of us are left feeling overwhelmed and isolated. How we handle these challenges varies from person to person. IoT can help to bridge the gap as we turn to digital devices that enable us to keep in touch with the things and people we care about most. Here are some of the ways that IoT is helping us with our mental health.
Wearable technology uses smart sensors to monitor, detect and communicate what your brain and body are going through. The most common smart wearable is the smartwatch and the new Apple Watch Series 6 claims the future of health is on your wrist. The Series 6 lets you track your sleep, check your blood oxygen levels and even take an ECG. Building on this, an app designed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Cognition Kit assesses and monitors your mental health through a series of brief cognition and mood tests and the results are quite encouraging and support an independent lifestyle from those affected most.
Mobile Applications (Apps) & Algorithms
Apps and algorithms use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in the care and treatment of mental health. They can offer those suffering with mental health problems access to healthcare and support that they otherwise may not have access to, due to distance or economics for instance. Through the use of apps and algorithms, AI can talk and listen to individuals, and help to flag, predict, diagnose, manage and treat mental health problems.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Recently, an AI algorithm on Facebook analysed users’ posts giving researchers the ability to detect signs of clinical depression an average of three months before the users’ medical providers diagnosed them. People posting about feelings of loneliness or isolation and typing certain words like “alone”, “ugh” or “tears” could be early warning signs. Researchers believed that if noticed and treated early enough, the impact depression has on someone’s education, work and relationships could be reduced.
Mental health chatbots, like Woebot and Wysa, are a form of AI that provide first-line support for people dealing with mental health problems. Not designed to replace traditional treatment options, chatbots can provide additional support and offer real-time help that also gives individuals privacy and anonymity.
Online therapy means an internet connection can help anyone with mental health problems access virtual and real-time counselling and advice. From the comfort of home, individuals can enter an online programme or use video chat tools to seek help and treatment from a live therapist.
Smart Security and GPS Trackers
One could say that that peace of mind is everything. With the introduction and growing popularity of smart security, homes everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief. Smart security systems can help to give us a sense of calm and a feeling of safety. They allow us to check, control and communicate with our security cameras, alarm systems, thermostats and doorbells via our smartphones and smart devices.
GPS trackers allow us to know where the pets and objects we love are and help us keep them safe. In addition to apps and devices that help you stay connected, our very own Curve, a smart tracking device that can be attached to just about anything, uses our global network to help you keep in touch with your favourite things. Packed full of features, you can follow the Curve in real-time via the app and create zones and personalised alerts.
We are living in a time when IoT is changing everything. It is giving us the chance to connect our lives in so many ways, providing convenience and confidence whether we’re watching our health or checking in on our homes and personal belongings… And that’s reassuring. Some could ask do we really need apps and AI to manage our mental health, but if we look at how far technology has advanced our lives, the real question might be: Can we afford to ignore the potential and positive impact it could have on our mental health?