App claims to know your GPA just by looking at your phone

Technically Incorrect: SmartGPA is a mobile app that uses your smartphone data to keep tabs on how hard you party, as opposed to study.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Sleep a little less and you'll get a 3.8? Devon and Jake's Symbiotic Studios/YouTube screnshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There are questions that some might find intelligent and that I confess to finding a tinge absurd.

Today's example: "What if you could know someone's grade point average, or GPA, just by simply looking at their phone?"

I don't want to look at anyone else's phone. It feels as intrusive as walking into their bedroom uninvited and seeing their underwear strewn over the floor. And why do I care about anyone's GPA? Am I really supposed to judge others by the numbers attached to their test-taking abilities?

Still, I fell upon a this YouTube video, so I'll keep going. For this is a wise brain from Dartmouth College lauding the fact that researchers at the school have developed "the very first app that uses sensing and machine learning algorithms to automatically track" your sleep patterns, your exercise patterns, your studying and your socializing.

What's lovely for you (should you be self-obsessed beyond measure) is that the app does this tracking without your input. It simply intrudes all over your phone in a way that the NSA wishes it could. (Oh, what am I saying, it likely does.)

When the creators of SmartGPA (PDF) -- for this is the app's name -- have all your data, they do still ask you for some self-reporting. Once they have that, they claim their app can predict your GPA within 17 hundredths of a point.

I can think of few things that would have destroyed by college life more, other than going out with Melissa and her friends that fateful night in my second year.

Yet here are these vast brains insisting they know how well you'll do just from your smartphone. They claim that "higher performers experienced an increase in stress levels up to the midterm period, followed by a gradual decrease to the end of the term."

This is quite a shock.

These marvelous high performers allegedly had "shorter conversations during the evening and night periods later in the term." Yes, the more you want to succeed, the gruffer you become.

You will be stunned into returning to college and never leaving when I tell you that these wondrous high performers spent more time studying as the term progressed.

The no-doubt terribly bright man presenting the video concludes: "Imagine a world where a student simply checks their phone to see if their behavior is in sync with their desired GPA."

I imagine that world and I weep blood. I imagine that world and I wonder what it would be like to be nagged 24 hours a day by an app, instead of a lover I should never have dated. I imagine that world and I take two steps toward my wine cellar for relief.

You, on the other hand, might be terribly excited by it.

If you're lagging in, say, the ridiculous length of your conversations, the app will provide tips to set you upon the righteous path. How wonderful is that?

"That's the future we're working on at Dartmouth College," are the presenter's final words.

You might, on hearing this, feel a desperate need to contribute all your life savings instantly to this college. You might, on the other hand, experience a deep palpitation accompanied by a need to shake this person furiously and offer him an app that monitors his brain patterns 24 hours a day.

Still, when you succeeded at college you always told people you were a machine, didn't you? How convenient, then, that there might be an app that proves your point.

(Via Engadget)