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Apple Conducts Research To Diagnose Mental Illness Through Its Devices

Apple gadgets will be able to detect depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline, according to a report published by Wall Street Journal. The report claims that Apple, Inc (AAPL) is working with the University of California, Los Angeles, and pharmaceutical giants Biogen to figure out the process to enable the devices with these features.

The tech giants are working with UCLA on developing the tools to diagnose depression and anxiety on a project codenamed "Seabreeze" while collaborating with Biogen on detecting cognitive decline on another project named "Pi"

The UCLA project involves a whole gamut of information collected with the help of the camera, keyboard, audio sensors, and other vital data collected with the help of wearables. Information, such as speaking patterns, sleeping patterns, typing speed, walking pace and frequency, movement, and other underlying data are being used for research. This set of data will then be compared to a set of questions on the emotional condition of the person and levels of cortisol hormone from the person's hair to complete the study. The UCLA study will track the data from 3,000 volunteers for their project.

The other project, "Pi" is also going to depend on similar data sets collected with the help of Apple wearables and other vital metrics. According to the Journal, the study will supersede a similar survey that shows that people with cognitive decline can be identified by noticing the difference in their usage of their iPhones from the others. Apparently, as many as 20,000 individuals are volunteering for this project. The volunteers will be studied for the next two years to detect how many of them develop cognitive impairment with time. Studies have shown that those who suffer from mild cognitive impairment at early ages have higher chances of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in their ripe ages.

Apple has taken notable steps to empower its Health app. In 2018, the Apple watch series 4 became the only wearable to feature FDA-approved atrial fibrillation detection. In their latest A-15 Bionic chipsets, Apple has integrated a Walking Steadiness detection system that can predict if the user might suffer from a serious fall in a year.

Earlier this year, when Apple introduced its child-abuse detection feature on the latest iPhones, it received a lot of flak. The Journal suggested that the company will look to incorporate the features in a way that can operate offline and without sharing the data with the servers.

While the research is still in its early stages, the executives of the company are positive about the potential of the research.

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