Boredom-detecting smartphones not far away

2 Sep 2015

Researchers have worked out a way for smartphones to determine when users are bored, meaning pretty soon the devices will be reacting to your behaviour.

The paper, entitled When Attention is not Scarce — Detecting Boredom from Mobile Phone Usage, will be presented at UbiComp in Japan and will highlight the links between smartphone use and boredom.

The researchers, from Telefonica in Barcelona, conducted an “in-the-wild” study on a 54 users, providing an app and asking them to fill in their level of entertainment throughout the day.

Two-week boredom test

After collating more than 40m usage logs over the two-week test, the team could compare the readings with what activities the users were undertaking on their phones.

Through this, they claim, boredom can be accurately established in 83pc of cases.

The app, Borapp2, prompted users to check out the latest Buzzfeed article, finding that those it considered bored clicked through more often than those it considered not bored.

It’s hardly a vast, comprehensive study, but may well be a step towards adding a new layer of smart to phones.

The information is there

Suggesting cinema times for a movie if it knows you have no plans this evening, promoting videos of puppies if you’ve had a bad day, or suggesting a weekend away if you’ve been in one place for too long are just three immediately obvious things your phone can know.

If your device can tell when you are bored and suggest interesting articles to read, perhaps it can learn your eating habits and suggest food choices at specific times.

It already uses location-based adverts through the likes of Google or Yahoo browsers, but why not prompt you to order a pizza from Domino’s if you’ve been discussing it with your spouse earlier in the day?

Better still, what if your phone can determine when you are down, feeling low, needing to talk to someone? The options could be endless.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic