The Wall Street Journal, citing internal Apple documents and interviews with unnamed people familiar with the issue, reports that the company is now studying the ability to recognize depression and even autism for children.
What does this mean?
The research is reportedly part of a partnership between Apple and the American biotech company Biogen and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that was announced earlier this year. Biogen's research focuses on cognitive decline, while Apple's research with UCLA focuses on stress, anxiety and depression.
Hopefully, it will be possible to use the data that the smartphone collects to identify certain mental states or cognitive decline. Apple will be able to develop an app or feature that will inform users of a dangerous condition.
UCLA researchers will use the iPhone's video camera, keyboard and audio sensors, as well as the Apple Watch, to collect data. They will analyze how users talk, how often and at what speed they walk, their heart rate and breathing rate, their sleep patterns, as well as their typing speed and typing frequency and more. In addition, the research will involve users answering a questionnaire about how they feel, and experts collecting hair samples to measure levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This information should provide insight into a person's emotions, concentration, energy levels and state of mind.
In turn, Biogen and Apple intend to use the data collected by the smartphone and watch to compare with traditional cognitive assessment tests and brain scans. The first Apple-Biogen trials began Monday.
In addition, Apple is partnering with Duke University to detect childhood autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. According to the report, the study uses an iPhone camera to observe how children focus and move.
According to anonymous sources, Apple's research is in its early stages and may never lead to new iPhone features.
Source: The Wall Street Journal