Our Challenge: Measuring Mood for Apple’s ResearchKit

Apr 18, 2016, 9:45 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

This $500K competition seeks proposals for studies that will further our understanding of mood and how it relates to daily life.

We know that mood is one of the keys to health. Whether you are happy, depressed, stressed out, anxious—all can impact your physical well-being. However, our knowledge of the relationship between mood and many social and economic factors—such as weather, pollution, access to food, sleep, and social connectedness—remains limited, despite decades of study.

Furthering scientific understanding of mood is critical to building a Culture of Health, and ResearchKit provides a novel way to build that understanding. Mobile-based clinical studies mounted with ResearchKit present exciting opportunities to increase participation in studies and to change the relationship between researchers and the people enrolled in those studies, which is why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is sponsoring the Mood Challenge for ResearchKit.

About the Challenge: The Challenge, a New Venture Fund program funded by RWJF, will award $500,000 in prize money to finalists and provide them with expert mentorship and opportunities to start pilots. Initial proposals will need to include a research hypothesis, identify a target audience propose data to be collected and a plan for sharing results with study participants. Phase II submissions will need to include a mock-up of the study app, a plan for piloting the app with test users, and a data management approach. Submissions from finalists will need to include Xcode files from the prototype to be open and available for use by anyone involved in future ResearchKit studies, preliminary analysis and lessons from the test user data, and a plan for full deployment.

ResearchKit is an open source software framework designed by Apple that provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate mood by turning iPhones into tools for medical research, helping doctors, scientists, and other researchers gather more frequent and accurate data from participants all over the world. We’ve been interested in this approach because it means that many more people can participate in research studies. One of the first studies that used ResearchKit—mPower: Mobile Parkinson Disease Study—has more than 9,000 people participating, making it the largest Parkinson’s study ever. In March, Apple also released CareKit, a software framework that makes it easier for individuals to track their health and treatment with their iPhones. Insights garnered from the mood studies will give people even greater help in managing their well-being on a daily basis.

Proposals for the Challenge will be accepted until May 22, 2016. Five semi-finalists will receive $20,000 each and have the opportunity to develop their proposals into app designs during the Virtual Accelerator, which includes an in-person boot camp to help with the development of their designs. Following the Virtual Accelerator, two finalists will receive $100,000 and move ahead to the Finalist Incubation and Testing phase, during which teams will fully develop their designs into prototypes. Following testing, one winner will be chosen to receive $200,000 to continue development and, finally, submit their product to the App Store.

We are proud to help advance research in this field and excited to see what solutions entrants will propose to help build a Culture of Health in America.

For a complete list of rules and to submit a proposal to the Mood Challenge visit: www.moodchallenge.com

An informational webinar about the Challenge is available at https://youtu.be/87q_xgu6fbk

Paul Tarini, senior program officer, focuses on exploration, discovery, learning, and emerging trends that may be important to the Culture of Health. Read his full bio