White paper on reality mining -- analyzing data gathered from the use of modern technological devices -- to improve public health and medicine

Reality mining pioneer Alex (Sandy) Pentland, with a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explores how mining data collected by sensors in mobile phones and similar devices could improve critical aspects of individual and public health — how we diagnose and treat disease, track it and prevent its spread. Mobile technology is can capture data about everything from our physical activity to the cadence of our speech. The field of "reality mining" is based on the notion that by measuring this data — we can learn valuable information about human behavior and bring a new level of understanding to areas like patient engagement, the causes and spread of disease or people's use of health services. Analyzing data on speech could detect signs of depression even before friends and family do. Or a change in gait picked up by motion sensors could be an early indicator of Parkinson's disease. Technology Review called reality mining one of "10 emerging technologies that could change the world." While Pentland recognizes that advocates of reality mining must address concerns about personal privacy, he believes that with proper care the benefits outweigh these concerns. As he told Business Week, "There is so much societal good that can come from this. Suddenly we have the ability to know what is happening with the mass of humanity and adapt society to accommodate the trends we can detect, and make society work better."

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $120,090.00

Awarded on: 9/15/2008

Time frame: 9/1/2008 - 2/28/2009

Grant Number: 64642


Cogito Inc.

46 Meriam Street
Lexington, 02420-3620


Alex P. Pentland
Project Director