May 31, 2013 7:01 pm

Barometer: tech

Gadgets at the cutting edge of fun and games – plus, an algorithm to match psychotherapists with clients
Playtime: gadgets at the cutting edge of fun and games

Clockwise from top left: Aftershockz Sportz M2; Lego Mindstorms EV3; Sifteo Cubes; Mad Catz M.O.U.S.9; GYG Golf Tracker

Playtime

Aftershockz Sportz M2

Bone conduction technology enables these headphones to transmit sounds through your cheekbones. £58.29 + VAT, aftershokz.co.uk

. . .

GYG Golf Tracker

From driving accuracy to scrambling percentage, this kit gives you the same stats as the pros. From July, $249, www.gameyourgame.com

. . .

Mad Catz M.O.U.S.9

Pimp your mouse: a gaming model that’s also suitable for everyday computing. £99.99, store.gameshark.net

. . .

Sifteo Cubes

Inspired by dominoes, these tiny gaming cubes interact wirelessly with each other. £129.95, roobix.co.uk

. . .

Lego Mindstorms EV3

One for your (inner) child – Lego’s latest robotic offering. From the autumn, £299.99, www.lego.com/shop

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Silicon notebook

Meetings of minds

There are algorithms that match people for romance and marriage, writes April Dembosky. Melissa Thompson believes there should be an algorithm to match psychotherapists with clients.

Melissa Thompson

Just as OKCupid asks people a series of questions, from whether they smoke to whether they believe in fate, to make romantic pairings, Thompson is developing a quiz that combines diagnostic information with personality characteristics to find the best clinical matches. “Some people know what they want and some people don’t know what they want,” she says. “Some want to see a menu.”

She still needs a lot more data, but in the meantime she’s hunting for psychiatrists and psychologists to be part of her online therapy start-up, TalkSession. She envisions a kind of OpenTable for therapists, helping them build a web presence, find clients, and schedule appointments. Eventually she wants the site to be a portal for video therapy sessions, where clients can see a therapist in the comfort of their own homes.

The concept is one of several bubbling up in the technology sector with a view to improving access and affordability of mental health services in the US. “Health care is broken,” Thompson says. “But mental healthcare is beyond broken.”

Similar to physical wellness gadgets that help people track weight, blood pressure, even sleep at minute levels, developers are also introducing mood and emotion tracking apps. Makers of the ME Clock, a health-tracking system that incorporates behaviour training, psychology and meditation, launched a crowdfunding campaign to build their latest product. The bedside clock provides a mental “workout for one’s thoughts and emotions, before, during, and after sleep”.

Some professionals are sceptical, particularly of video therapy. Psychologist Robin Rosenberg says a big part of treating someone for anxiety, for example, is reading body language. “You can sense it in a room when someone’s getting anxious,” she says. “I can’t do that over video.”

But Thompson says that therapists have to recognise that patients increasingly want care that is more convenient to them. “It’s a two-sided relationship,” she says. “They’re going to have to adapt to consumer demand.”

april.dembosky@ft.com

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