01/10/2013 12:21 am ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

Passing Forward the Happiness in Your Pocket

Written by Ran Zilca, Chief Scientist, bLife Inc

The traditional chain of product development starts with basic science, continues through applied research and finally ends with engineering and technology. When we started exploring this space almost seven years ago there were no iPhones, no Android phones, and basically there was no mobile app market. Our vision at the time was simple: to take the best science of psychology and complete the natural product development chain with great engineering to bring new software tools to the masses. We followed that route until the iPhone App Store came out, and then realized that the chain has been reversed; overnight, technology allowed us to be in the individual's pocket all day, to monitor the finest details of our user's behavior and psychological state, and to intervene at the right time, in the right place, the right way. Moreover, we also had access to our users' social lives, and we could be a part of them, too. Technology has become a driver for the science. We needed to create a new kind of science to fit the X-Large shoes of the App Store.

And so we did. All of us in the research community rolled up our sleeves and gathered what neuroscientists know about the brain, what positive psychologists know about positive emotions, what signal processing researchers know about sensors, and what behavioral economists know about behavior change. Now, three years later, we are starting to see initial results from exciting experiments showing dramatic improvements in well-being using mobile apps. The findings are encouraging, but also teach us a lesson that goes well beyond the mere science -- a lesson about values, beliefs and a shared mission of the research community, authors, teachers and coaches. The new science that emerged from mobile technology surfaced the merits of generosity, kindness, gratitude and the nurturing social relationship. The equations, numbers and charts added up to a broader picture where individuals are connected using an invisible fabric that pushes them to flourish and thrive, a fabric that starts with the shift of individual mindsets and turns into a wave of individual shifts, a movement to change humanity for the better. Simply put, the science that emerged from mobile technology is a science of love.

The GPS for the Soul app is a flagship product of this paradigm. It harnesses the power of technology to perform advanced stressed sensing, and it uses the emerging science of behavior change to engage people in a set of activities that are shown to reduce stress. Yet, above all, GPS for the Soul is a vehicle for change in the world, a material manifestation of the tight fabric that weaves all of us together to become personal ambassadors of positive change -- it is a vehicle of love.

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