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Soon, your smartphone can tell if you are bored

Washington :An algorithm that can look at your smartphone activity to tell if you are bored has been developed by researchers.

Researchers at Telefonica Research in Barcelona, Spain, looked at mobile activity, considering factors like the time since a user last had a call or text, the time of day, and how intensely they used the phone.

They found that looking at this kind of data gave a reliable prediction of boredom as often as 83 per cent of the time, ‘MIT Technology Review’ reported.

The researchers also sent bored smartphone users an alert to check out an article on BuzzFeed – which people who were judged to be bored clicked on more often than people who were not.

The researchers first determined characteristics of boredom by using an Android app to ask study participants to rate their level of boredom several times a day over two weeks.

The responses were compared with other data snagged from the phones measuring things like how many apps they used, and how intensely the phone was used overall (both measures rose as people got more bored).

To validate the resulting algorithm, researchers built another Android app that concluded on its own whether the user was bored, and, when it did, sent an alert to their phone asking if they wanted to read an article on BuzzFeed’s news app.

A separate set of study participants used it for two weeks, and researchers found that the people who had been identified as bored were more likely to click on the alert to see the story, and to spend time looking at it, than those who were randomly sent an alert.

Tilman Dingler, a graduate student at the University of Stuttgart and coauthor of the research, who worked on the study as a visiting researcher at Telefonica last year said the team now wants to figure out more about what kinds of content people might most want to see when they are bored, and whether that might include learning activities, too.