Kathryn Lindsay
September 04, 2015 6:00 am

When we’re bored, we usually turn to our smartphones for some time-wasting entertainment. But it probably never occurred to us that it knows that’s what we’re doing. That’s right. Experts at Telefonica Research in Barcelona, Spain figured out an algorithm that takes into account your smartphone activity, including time of day and how often you’re receiving texts, to determine if you’re on-the-go, or just killing time on your couch.

By asking participants to rate their boredom over the course of two weeks, and comparing this with data from their phones, such as app use, phones were able to accurately predict boredom 83% of the time.

While that’s cool and all, what does it mean? What can we do with this info?

Telefonica Research thought of that too, and took things a step further by setting up an alert for whenever a smartphone determined its users were bored. This alert suggested users read a BuzzFeed article, and those who were bored were more likely to check it out than those who weren’t.

This means that content creators might have cracked the code for how to best pique their readers’ interests. This doesn’t just mean getting users to read an article, but other app-related activities, like playing a game, reading the news or learning a language. By prompting at the exact right time, apps can draw in more users to do almost anything.

Researchers are also excited for the possible mental health benefits that exploring this new feature could offer. Assistant professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, M. Ehsan Hoque, explained. “We know boredom leads to depression,” he said. “So if you can infer the person is bored, you can do something about it.”

Soon, your phone will be making calls and opening apps before you even know you want to. Does this mean that one day my phone will know I’m hungry and order food to my door? That sounds dangerously delicious, and I’m all for it.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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