Phonotype: a New Taxonomy for mHealth Research

  • Bruce L. RollmanEmail author
  • David A. Brent

Our phones and computers have become reflections of our personalities, our interests, and our identities. They hold much that is important to us.1

James B. Comey, Former FBI Director

Genotype and phenotype are established terms used to describe the set of genes that are unique to a person’s genetic makeup, and the observable characteristics resulting from the interaction of that genotype with the environment, respectively. Adding to this taxonomy, we propose a new term, “phonotype,” to describe how information collected by an individual’s smartphone can be utilized to understand their behavior and promote health.

While similar phrases including reality mining, digital phenotyping, and personal informatics have also been used to describe research involving smartphone-collected data,2we advocate for the term “phonotype” instead given its (1) clear connotation to smartphones; (2) “-type” suffix consistency with genotype and phenotype; and (3) single-word simplicity. Moreover, the term…

Twitter handle @HealthTechPitt to Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology

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