Moving beyond its revolutionary technology to sense for irregular heartbeats that could result in a heart attack or stroke, Apple Inc. is now looking into whether key usage data collected from its iPhones and Watch can detect depression, stress, anxiety, cognitive decline and even autism. This is according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and news magazines, including Forbes.
Apple is partnering with pharmaceutical company Biogen on the cognitive decline part of the equation and with UCLA on the stress, anxiety and depression component.
The data that Apple will be collecting will come from people's usage of its video camera, keyboard and audio (and in the case of the Watch) physical sensors.
It is the changes in the usage that Apple evidently will find the most interesting, such as how users speak, how often and fast they walk, their heart and breathing rates, sleep patterns, and more. Obviously, Apple will be able to collect information from users' communications and searches, and what they write and text.
According to the WSJ, Apple will be working with Biogen for two years and study 20,000 people. A synopsis of the WSJ article by Business Insider did not lay out the parameters for the UCLA partnership.
Spearately, Apple is working with Duke University to detect childhood autism, according to the WSJ, citing the same sources used in many of the other reports. For this to work, Apple will be looking into how children use their iPhone camera.
An anonymous source told the WSJ that Apple expects that as its research on these three initial areas gets underway, it will lead to more innovative uses of its phones, watches and other handheld devices.
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