Apple stuffs more and more technology, features, and hardware into each successive generation of the iPhone. A new report has surfaced that claims Apple is working with UCLA and Biogen to integrate new health features that will detect depression and cognitive decline. The program’s goal is to determine if the iPhone can gather data, including facial expressions and typing metrics, to identify any mental health concerns in the device user.
The report cites people claiming to be familiar with Apple’s plans and leaked documents. It claims that Apple plans to use data gathered by sensors measuring mobility, sleep patterns, typing behavior, physical activity, and more. In addition, Apple reportedly wants to develop algorithms able to detect depression and cognitive decline reliably. Apple’s plan stems from a partnership with UCLA that involves studying stress, anxiety, and depression.
Apple is also working with Biogen on a study focusing on mild cognitive impairment. The study with UCLA is reportedly code-named “Seabreeze,” while the project with Biogen is code-named “Pi.” Biogen is a pharmaceutical company recently granted FDA approval for a new drug designed to treat mild cognitive impairment. The move to integrate new health features into the iPhone appears to be an expansion of the push to integrate more health features into the Apple Watch.
Positioning its devices as beneficial for user health could help bring a new glut of users to Apple devices. Many aging people out there don’t use smartphones but could be brought into the Apple fold with health features only available on the iPhone. However, the sources for the report are clear that Apple’s study participation on both of these topics might never lead to new features. Apple’s participation in the studies is reportedly at a very early stage.