Appetit App Predicts Cravings, Mood Swings, And More By Measuring Your Physiological Changes

Researchers at IBM are developing an app that can track your cravings and food-related mood swings. That’s right: It’ll predict when you’re about to get hangry before you alienate everyone around you. No longer will you experience intense bouts of rage and depression, convinced that the universe is cruel and horrible, only to realize later that you just needed to eat a sandwich. Think of the friendships that won’t end in hunger-fueled flames! The marriages that won’t crumble under the weight of an unusually late dinner! Thanks, technology!

IBM researchers James Kozloski and Henry Chang have developed an app called Appetit, which is part of a system of wearable technology that monitors physiological data. A user wears a biometric shirt with sensors that can measure vital signs like the electrical activity of the heart, breathing, and even movement (Kozloski told HowStuffWorks, “It can tell when you're fidgeting.”). Software analyzes this data in order to recognize patterns, and then eventually to predict when certain events, from cravings to anxiety attacks, are likely to recur. Subjects can program the app to track whatever physiological states or responses they want to study.

The Appetit system is still in its trial phase, but the results so far are promising. Kozloski told HowStuffWorks that, in trials, the app “has been able to predict events 10 to 20 minutes in advance with up to 90 percent accuracy.”

This kind of body monitoring could have a wide variety of useful applications. Kozloski’s colleague, Henry Chang, sees potential in the app for helping patients to manage their appetites. Appetit could let users know in advance when a craving is going to hit, thus allowing them to find a healthy substitute for junk food, or notify them when they need to eat to avoid the dreaded hanger-rage. Kozloski also suggests that the system could be used to help users cope with mental health issues by signifying when a panic attack or a depressive episode is on its way. He explains, "It can assist an individual in heading off a change in his or her cognitive state.”

Appetit is still undergoing trials, and it may be a long time before IBM develops a version for a consumer market. Nevertheless, it’s pretty cool to think that, eventually, our smart phones could be pinging to let us know things about our bodies of which we are not even aware.

Images: NBC Universal; Giphy (1, 2)