Can your phone sense your mood?

We're still looking for participants for our Houston study!

Today’s phones are “smart”: they have powerful hardware, are run rich applications and have various sensors such as cameras, GPS, accelerometer and many others. However, today’s phones know very little about the users themselves. They don't know the users’ feelings (e.g., happy or sad) unless told by the users.

We believe that future mobile phones can be even smarter and know more about users’ internal states. In our MoodSense study, we make one step towards that goal by studying whether a mobile phone can learn its owner’s moods which are relatively long-lasting (e.g., in hours or days) emotional states. User mood is an important social signal and knowing mood can enable many applications such as automatic mood updates to Facebook and Twitter.

Our study

We are currently recruiting iPhone users for a 2-month long study to investigate the possibility of training a phone to recognize certain moods from phone interaction patterns. The study involves the installation of a mood input application, called MoodTrack, and a phone usage collection tool, called LiveLab. Both are detailed below. While private data will be kept anonymous, the results of the study will be academically analyzed and reported.

If you have an iPhone that runs iOS 4.0 or higher and are willing to jailbreak the phone, you are eligible for our study.

Early results from our first user study can be found in our PhoneSense 2011 Workshop paper.

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LiveLab Logger

LiveLab comprehensively logs iPhone usage including phone calls, SMS, Web history, email and application usage, and sensor data of GPS locations and accelerometer readings. This logger invisibly runs in the background, uploading data at night so as not to interfere with phone usage.

LiveLab is designed with privacy protection in mind. All sensitive data (contact information, message content, etc.) collected by LiveLab are either anonymized by a one-way hash or discarded, and all logs are further RSA-encrypted so they will only be seen by the researchers of this study.


MoodTrack is an iPhone app that lets you track your mood over time over two dimensions, polarity (happiness/sadness) and activity level. The app is easy to use, taking roughly 15 seconds for an input, then lets you get back to your life. MoodTrack occasionally reminds you to enter your mood a few times a day to keep a consistent log of your feelings. During our study, you will also be offered the opportunity to get stars up to four times a day. These stars will be used as entries to a raffle to win a new iPod.

Your history of previous inputs can be reviewed in a calendar view or a graph view to track how your mood has been changing.

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Get in touch.

Please send any comments, questions, or suggestions to sense (at)

For more information about other Rice Efficient Computing group projects, visit

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