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Digital biomarker and therapeutics company Feel Therapeutics announced today it was granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its “Method for detecting and recognizing an emotional state of a user.” The machine learning method uses a variety of data, including data from a wearable device, to identify patterns that correspond with specific emotional states.

“This patent reflects Feel’s commitment to enabling a new era of digital precision medicine in psychiatry, neuroscience, and beyond. It is part of a larger patent portfolio and intellectual property that the company has developed over the years,” said Haris Tsirmpas, PhD, co-founder and CTO of Feel. “Powered by our large-scale machine learning experimentation and psychophysiology analysis platform, this technology is addressing an urgent medical need by providing continuous, personalized, and timely support to individuals suffering from mental disorders.”

Feel’s technology continuously records physiological signals from the device worn by the user—including a continuous electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor developed by Feel—and combines it with voice and other digital data sources for analysis by its algorithm. This delivers objective data monitoring on the mental state of the user, as well as additional contextual information. The intent is to allow clinicians real-time, personalized monitoring of patients and provide them with the opportunity for intervention between appointments, as a means to prevent ER visits or rehospitalization, should their mental health condition begin to deteriorate.

Earlier this year, the company published research it conducted on its remote, digital monitoring method in the journal Frontiers in Digital Health, showing that its emotion detection technology achieved a precision level of 87% in detecting emotional events. The study participants had been diagnosed with either major depressive disorder (MDD) or generalized anxiety disorders (GAD). The research showed that measures for MDD and GAD symptoms—measured by the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores for these conditions—showed an average reduction of 50% for both scales and nine out of 10 participants showed a decrease of at least one symptom.

The management at Feel believes that there is ample room for their technology in not only advancing the field of mental health treatment, but also of breaking down barriers to mental health services. Its research noted the scarcity of mental health services in developing countries, but that “even in the case of more advanced countries, there exist a number of reasons that hinder access to mental health care. An indicative example regards that of the U.S. where a recent study reported that almost half of the participants could not afford the cost of treatments, while approximately 17% cited reasons related to the lack of awareness of any services for reaching out,” they wrote in the published research.

According to the company, securing the patent for their technology was an important step in the quickly developing digital health market.

“We recently saw companies such as Amazon focusing on developing emotion detection wearable devices using voice recognition, and companies such as Fitbit and Verily monitoring stress and other health markers with electrodermal activity sensing,” said George Eleftheriou, CEO and co-founder. “This showcases the importance of securing this patent for Feel Therapeutics in a booming market, and the importance of having developed a solid technology to translate digital data and physiological signals into precise metrics and insights related to mental health.”

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