The BiAffect app has the potential to monitor depressive patterns in people with bipolar disorder

An app called BiAffect is being developed to help predict and monitor manic and depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder. The app is now available in the App Store.

The app quietly monitors keyboard patterns like typing speed and rhythm, mistakes in texts, and the use of backspace and auto-correct. This is analyzed using an artificial intelligence-based machine learning approach to identify digital biomarkers of manic and depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder.

To download BiAffect, users must first opt into a study led by its developers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Users say that the data will be used to further refine and improve the app. People who download BiAffect will be able to view their own data, like cell phone usage over time, number of keystrokes, use of spellcheck, and more.

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings between the emotional highs of manic episodes and low periods of depression. During a manic episode, people with bipolar disorder often exhibit common behaviors such as talking really fast and acting in an impulsive manner.

During depressive episodes, typing a long message may become laborious, and messages tend to be shorter. Monitoring health from an iPhone in a non-intrusive manner is a low-cost way of helping the lives of millions of people.

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