Apple wins a Patent for a Mixed Reality HMD that could assist those with various stages of Alzheimer's Disease
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to head-mounted devices, and, more particularly, to head-mounted devices that can detect and respond to a user's behavior. More specifically, Apple's patent envisions their future Mixed Reality Headset being able to test and assist seniors suspected of showing signs of Alzheimer's Disease. With the use of Augmented Reality, exercises could be performed in the real world that test for aphasia and apraxia. It could also detect and respond to a user's expressions of agnosia. Lastly, the AR features could flash names of people in front of them should they forget and much more. This is a great endeavor and I hope that Apple will one day be able to deliver this patented concept to the public.
Dementia is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases and covers several neurodegenerative diseases that have similar symptoms, wherein a large majority of cases are caused by Alzheimer's disease. Currently, there are about 24 million people around the world suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which increases by 4.6 million cases per year as the aging population increases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that Alzheimer's will affect 80 million people by the year 2040. Alzheimer's disease has a slow pathogenesis and is a persistent neurological dysfunction that deteriorates over time.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may include short term memory loss, whereas symptoms in later stages of Alzheimer's may include delirium, irritability, aggressive behavior, problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, loss of long-term memory, not managing self-care and behavioral issues.
Many individuals facing cognitive decline show physical or emotional signs of the issue. Some of these signs may be too subtle to notice within a limited range of time, particular at an early stage of such conditions.
Apple has for many years developed many health features for Apple Watch including an ECG app, the ability to measure Blood Oxygen, temperature sensing and the Sleep app.
Apple appears to now be working on one of the biggest health issues facing seniors, Alzheimer's disease. Apple is approaching a detection system that involves the use of their future mixed reality headset.
Apple's inventor, Paul X Wang, states that features of a dementia include multiple cognitive deficits, such as memory impairment, and at least one of aphasia, apraxia, agnosia, and/or a disturbance in executive functioning (e.g., the ability to think abstractly and to plan, initiate, sequence, monitor, and stop complex behavior). The order of onset and relative prominence of the cognitive disturbances and associated symptoms vary with the specific type of dementia.
Memory impairment is generally a prominent early symptom. Individuals with dementia have difficulty learning new material and may lose valuables, such as wallets and keys, or forget food cooking on the stove.
In more severe dementia, individuals also forget previously learned material, including the names of loved ones. Individuals with dementia may have difficulty with spatial tasks, such as navigating around the house or in the immediate neighborhood (where difficulties with memory are unlikely to play a role).
Poor judgment and poor insight are common as well. Individuals may exhibit little or no awareness of memory loss or other cognitive abnormalities. They may make unrealistic assessments of their abilities and make plans that are not congruent with their deficits and prognosis (e.g., planning to start a new business). They may underestimate the risks involved in activities (e.g., driving).
To make a diagnosis of dementia the cognitive deficits can be evaluated as being sufficiently severe to cause impairment in occupational or social functioning and as representing a decline from a previous level of functioning. The nature and degree of impairment are variable and often depend on the particular social setting of the individual.
Cognitive or degenerative brain disorders are characterized clinically by progressive loss of memory, cognition, reasoning, judgment and emotional stability that gradually leads to profound mental deterioration and ultimately death. The disease can begin a number of years before it manifests itself in the mild cognitive changes that are the early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
"Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type" begins gradually and is usually diagnosed after other specific causes have been ruled out. Diagnostic criteria for Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type include the development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both memory impairment (anterograde or retrograde, i.e., impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information) and one or more of aphasia (language disturbance), apraxia (impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function), agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function), and/or disturbance in executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, sequencing, and abstracting). These cognitive deficits can each cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.
Head-mounted devices as presented in Apple's granted patent can provide non-invasive mechanisms for detecting and responding to symptoms of cognitive decline.
In general, a head-mounted device can be worn by a user to display visual information within the field of view of the user. The head-mounted device can be used as a virtual reality (VR) system, an augmented reality (AR) system, and/or a mixed reality (MR) system. A user may observe outputs provided by the head-mounted device, such as visual information provided on a display. The display can optionally allow a user to observe an environment outside of the head-mounted device.
A head-mounted device can be regularly and frequently worn while the user performs regular daily tasks. Because a head-mounted device can be mobile and allow a user to see an external environment, the use of the head-mounted device allows the user to maintain a high quality of life.
Accordingly, the user may be more likely to use it regularly and often, thereby providing the head-mounted device with ample opportunities to collect data. As the head-mounted device is regularly or frequently used, the head-mounted device can monitor activities of a user wearing the head-mounted device.
The head-mounted device includes hardware (e.g., display, camera, microphone, eye-tracking device, etc.) that facilitate the determination of diagnosis and prognosis and allow meaningful feedback to a user.
The head-mounted device can detect and respond to a user's expressions of aphasia, for example by determining whether a user is speaking the wrong words to refer to subjects identified by the head-mounted device.
The head-mounted device can detect and respond to a user's expressions of apraxia, for example by determining whether the user is failing to interact with objects for which the user is reaching. The head-mounted device can detect and respond to a user's expressions of agnosia, for example by determining whether the user is putting items where they do not belong.
By collecting a large volume of data across a long duration of time, the cognitive status of the user can be evaluated with greater confidence than may be achieved with an evaluation of short duration and/or frequency. Evaluations performed by the head-mounted device can facilitate the determinations of which disorder is present, a severity of the disorder, trends, and/or forecasts.
Apple's patent FIGS. 3 and 4 below, presents a head-mounted device that can detect and/or respond to a user's expressions of aphasia, including language disturbance. In particular, the head-mounted device can be configured to detect repetitions of words and or substitution of words with incorrect words. Appropriate responses can be provided by the head-mounted device upon detection of an expression of aphasia.
As shown in FIG. 3, a head-mounted device (#100) can be configured to record speech (#350) from a user (#10) wearing the head-mounted device. The recording can be performed by a microphone of the head-mounted device and/or another microphone in communication with the head-mounted device.
The head-mounted device can analyze the speech to detect certain conditions, such as repetition of a word, proper or improper syntax, proper or improper grammar, speed of speech, duration of a delay between spoken words, and the like.
Where the head-mounted device determines that the speech contains one or more of such errors, the head-mounted device can determine that the speech of the user is an expression of aphasia.
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Apple's patent FIGS. 5 and 6 below, illustrate a head-mounted device that can detect and/or respond to a user's expressions of apraxia, including an impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function. In particular, the head-mounted device can be configured to detect failures to complete motor function tasks. Appropriate responses can be provided by the head-mounted device upon detection of an expression of apraxia.
Apple's patent FIGS. 7 and 8 above relates to a head-mounted device that can detect and/or respond to a user's expressions of agnosia, including an impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function. In particular, the head-mounted device can be configured to detect a user's inability to recognize objects and/or the purpose of objects. Appropriate responses can be provided by the head-mounted device upon detection of an expression of apraxia.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,450,101.