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Phone app colour codes messages to 'help manage stress'

16, June, BBC

A new mobile phone app will prepare users for receiving good or bad news on their phones, say researchers.Made by a team from the University of Portsmouth's School of Computing, the app distinguishes good messages from bad and neutral ones, and colour codes them accordingly.

Users may choose not to open negative messages if they are already having a stressful day.But some experts think that ignoring such messages may also be stressful.

For now, the app has been tested on phones running Android OS, and the results of the study will be presented at the 16th International Conference on Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems in Spain in September.The app automatically colour codes incoming messages, making them green for positive, red for negative and blue for neutral.

This way, a user can see before opening a message whether it is likely to be worrying or not.

"The application works by learning from past messages how the user perceives the content as being positive, negative or objective," lead researcher Dr Mohamed Gaber told BBC News.

"The ultimate objective... is to make the user aware of the negative contents they receive so they are able to manage their stress in the best possible way."For example, if most of what is received from social media websites by a user on a particular day was negative, it is important that the user attempts to take an action in order to not get stressed, especially if this may affect the individual's performance at work and/or their behaviour at home."

The scientist added that the app comes "pre-trained", but users are able to self-label any incoming text message to personalise it - as some messages may be perceived in a different way by different users.

But Pamela Briggs, a psychologist from the British Psychological Society, thinks the main question is whether or not a user can trust that the app will indeed interpret the information correctly.

 

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