Future Fitbit wearable could offer mental state monitoring and mood tracking at a potential privacy cost
A patent filed by Fitbit, Inc. has been unearthed by GadgetsandWearables that points to the Google subsidiary potentially developing a smartwatch or tracker that could aid with the user’s mental state as well as their physical state. The patent application is titled “determining mental health and cognitive state through physiological and other non-invasively based data”. Technical drawings in the patent show a smartwatch-like device with sensors on the rear side to capture the required physiological information, which could include heart rate and activity level.
By combining the available data, it seems the Fitbit gadget could offer the wearer some idea of their current mental state, whether that be simply normal, elevated, or something more disconcerting like a depressive state. Using “predictive modeling”, the Fitbit mood tracker would be able to utilize machine learning to correlate the data it had collected with known “mental state predictions”. There are plenty of minefields Fitbit would have to navigate through to implement such a function in a future smartwatch, such as asking the wearer to trust the company with their historical mental health information.
The patent filing also offers up the worrying statement “vocal data obtained through a phone and/or a microphone”. Obviously, user agreement would be applied before the Fitbit wearable could start operating in such a manner, which is pointed out later in the abstract. However, in a world where a user’s privacy is becoming both more valuable yet more widely distributed as more and more devices penetrate our daily lives demanding permissions, knowing its owner’s mental state and potentially sharing it could be a step too far for this particular Fitbit concept device.