Exploring new frontiers in mental health with Apple’s ResearchKit

Open Innovation, Health

Since its launch in 2015, Apple’s ResearchKit has transformed the iPhone into a powerful medical device that reveals new insight about health in the context of our daily lives. While the platform has been deployed across many disease states, mental wellness remains largely unexplored.

Enter the Mood Challenge for Apple’s ResearchKit, a New Venture Fund program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and powered by Luminary Labs. The Challenge offered a $500K prize purse, calling on researchers to further our understanding of mood and how it relates to daily life.

This week, we announced BiAffect, a new ResearchKit study for bipolar disorder, as the Challenge winner. Biaffect tracks how keystroke dynamics like typing speed, frequency of texting, and social media use change during depressive and manic episodes.

For the 5.7 Americans with bipolar, life poses many challenges: it can takes years to diagnose the disorder, and everyday factors such as stress, weather and sleep can impact treatment needs. This data collected in the app will reveal virtual markers to identify and predict shifts in mood, having the potential to transform diagnosis and treatment.

BiAffect spent months developing their study throughout the Challenge: from their initial concept submission and the Semi-Finalist announcement, through the Virtual Accelerator, which included an Innovators Bootcamp and culminated with Semi-finalist presentations at RWJF. Finalists BiAffect and Aware Study were selected to receive $100,000 to incubate, test, and fully develop their designs into working prototypes. As the Challenge winner, BiAffect will now take home an additional $200,000 in prize funds to launch their study in the app store.

We thank the many experts who served as judges, mentors and review panelists to make this process possible. Learn more about the Mood Challenge, BiAffect, and how we got here at moodchallenge.com.

Image source: Flickr user tua ulamac