October 19, 2021

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“Apple” is developing technology to help diagnose mental illness, a report says

Apple is developing new technology to help diagnose depression, cognitive decline and other mental illnesses, according to a new report.

In collaboration with UCLA and biotechnology company Biogen, Apple plans to make greater use of health-related sensors in its devices.

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The company already has comprehensive health-related technology offers including heart, sleep and functional monitoring through the Apple Watch and iPhone phones.

Informed sources told the Wall Street Journal that researchers would use data from iPhone sensors to search for digital signals associated with certain mental states, including depression and anxiety.

It can reliably predict depression and other conditions and should be the basis for new features in future versions of Apple’s iOS operating system.

The partnership with Biogen focuses on studying mild cognitive impairment among users, according to a report released on Tuesday, September 21, by several unidentified Apple employees who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

The report notes that there are two research projects related to the development of this technology, and they include the University of California program that explores stress, anxiety and depression in collaboration with “Apple”.

Another, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biogen project, codenamed ‘Pi’, set out to study MCI.

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Apple has not yet confirmed the details in the Wall Street Journal report, or whether it will actually lead to the addition of new features to the iPhone.

To effectively diagnose a mental condition, close monitoring by specialists is needed to see changes in behavior from the patient’s nature.

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These professionals can be used to give an early indication of changes in telephone usage behavior, especially in areas where experts are not widely available.

The University of California, Los Angeles says it began researching the symptoms of depression, anxiety and depression in a trial phase in 2020 using fall-tracking features on the Apple Watch and iPhones.

The research team is expanding this to use data from 3,000 people this year, and will monitor data from the iPhone’s camera, keyboard and sound sensors, and link it to the clock’s information about movement, sleep and vital signs.

This includes facial expressions, how volunteers talk, how many times they go for a walk, how well they sleep, and heart and breathing rates.

“People close to the study” told the Wall Street Journal that they look at the speed of writing, the frequency of misspellings, the content they write and other points.

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These are all believed to be “digital signals” that indicate symptoms of a mental illness.

UCLA researchers report that volunteers fill out questionnaires about their mental health and search for stress hormones in their hair follicles to see if the data apply.

A future application, perhaps Apple Health, should warn a user that they are at risk and seek professional attention.

Meanwhile, Biogen is working with a team of 20,000 participants who will use the iPhone and Apple Watch to monitor cognitive function over a two-year period.

He believes it can be used to identify mild cognitive impairment, which often leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

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Like the University of California program, this could result in new iPhone features that could warn people that they are in danger and suggest that they seek help in advance otherwise.

Source: Daily Mail