Apple is one of those companies that believes its products are not for a single purpose alone. With each Apple Watch, Apple brings a new health monitoring function. The same is going to happen with the upcoming iPhones as well. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is working on new features that would enable a next-gen iPhone to detect depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline, using a number of digital clues. The latter mainly refers to the physical activity and sleep patterns.
The information comes from people familiar with the matter and internal documents. Sources say that Apple is studying technologies to help users diagnose depression and cognitive decline. Apple hopes to use a range of sensor data, including mobility, physical activity, sleep patterns, typing behavior, etc.
The mention of sleep patterns would suggest that the iPhone system could involve wearing an Apple Watch or using Apple's "Beddit" system, not mentioned in the WSJ report.
The report further notes that the researchers hope they can sort out digital signals related to target conditions in order to create algorithms to reliably detect the mentioned health statuses.
In addition, Apple is reportedly cooperating with the University of California, Los Angeles and Biogen to try to see whether users may have mental health problems through sensitive data such as facial expression detection and typing indicators. Seabreeze” is Apple’s code name for the UCLA project and “Pi” is the code name for the Biogen project.
The report also notes that "The data that may be used includes analysis of participants’ facial expressions, how they speak, the pace and frequency of their walks, sleep patterns, and heart and respiration rates. They may also measure the speed of their typing, frequency of their typos and content of what they type, among other data points."
Whether such health features would be of interest to anyone is unknown at this time.