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$500K Challenge Seeks Mood Research Ideas with iPhone

iPhone in hand

(nvtriab, Pixabay)

Update, 20 July 2016. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsoring the Mood Challenge announced the competition’s 5 semi-finalists:

Aware Study, to measure mood and posttraumatic stress symptoms among the millions of adults living with PTSD.

BiAffect, a system for understanding mood and neurocognitive functioning in bipolar disorder using keystroke dynamics, such as typing speed and errors, to track and predict mood episodes.

Mood Circle, to improve on mood detection and modeling using passive data tracking and self-reports on mood by incorporating social networking.

MoodSync, to identify how daily mood and social environments are associated with biological aging among family caregivers.

Mood Toolkit, to provide mental health researchers with a configurable toolkit to study daily emotional health and well-being through the ResearchKit framework.

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6 April 2016. A new challenge seeks ideas for studying people’s moods using Apple’s iPhone as the technology platform. The competition, with a total purse of $500,000, is conducted by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and has an initial deadline of 22 May 2016 for submissions.

The Mood Challenge is looking for ways of systematically assessing mental and emotion conditions of individuals that collect data with Apple’s iPhone and ResearchKit to build the data collection instruments. Its sponsors are particularly interested in combining contextual and social factors associated with people’s moods, as well as the usual instruments for measuring emotions. Participants in the competition are encouraged to submit research ideas that collect both active information — entered directly by users — or passive data collected by sensors built in or attached to iPhones.

Apple’s ResearchKit is an open-source framework for collecting medical data with surveys or sensors connected to iPhones. The platform also contains templates to describe the conduct of studies and capture signatures for informed consent. In addition, ResearchKit integrates with HealthKit, Apple’s mobile platform for monitoring an individual’s health and fitness.

The Mood Challenge competition has three rounds. In the first round, entrants will provide a proposal detailing the research hypothesis and target audience, along with a plan for employing ResearchKit to conduct the study. Proposals should also explain the data and signals anticipated in their studies, as well as a plan for sharing data with individuals taking part. The deadline for these proposals is 22 May 2016.

From this first round, judges will select 5 semi-finalists, who will be asked to prepare visual mock-ups of proposed iPhone apps, with detailed descriptions of surveys and tasks in the proposed study. Semi-finalists will also be expected to develop plans for pilot testing, data management, and participant screening and consent. Judges will then select 2 finalists, who will write their apps with Apple’s xCode development platform and plan for full deployment through Apple’s App Store.

A total of $500,000 will be awarded. The 5 semi-finalists will each receive $20,000 to prepare their pilot testing and data management plans in the second round. Each of the two finalists will receive $100,000 to design their prototypes and pilot tests. The top winner will receive an award of $200,000 and guidance for submission of their ResearchKit study to the App Store.

“We know that mood is one of the keys to health,” says Robert Wood Johnson Foundation president Risa Lavizzo-Mourey in a foundation statement, “but much more can be learned about the relationship between mood and the many social and economic factors that affect it, and our health. We think platforms like ResearchKit have the potential to revolutionize how research is conducted, and we’re launching this competition to help explore that.”

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