Question Of The Day: Will our phones diagnose depression anytime soon?

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THEY have had a seismic impact on the way we live, but the iPhone’s next role could be even more revolutionary: to detect and diagnose depression and cognitive decline.

What is happening?

Apple is working with global biotech company Biogen and a team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to turn iPhones into mental health monitors; establish technological systems to enable the iPhone to help diagnose anxiety and depression and also detect cognitive decline, to enable early intervention in conditions that affect millions of people around the world.

How could this be possible?

Using a variety of sensor data – such as scoring typing behavior, physical activity, sleep patterns, and mobility – to determine algorithms that can essentially detect health issues. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Biogen began research this week.

So our phones are monitoring our behavior?

Areas explored include the analysis of facial expressions of phone users, the way they speak, how often and how fast they walk, sleep patterns, and heart and respiratory rates. They can also measure typing speed and typing quality, such as the number of typos by a user.

What about privacy?

Some may say it’s just an extension of where we are now. Apple is known for its emphasis on health, notably demonstrated with the Apple Watch which it already describes as “the ultimate device for healthy living” “capable of checking a wearer’s heart rate, irregular rhythms and oxygen levels, for example.

What does Apple say?

Jeff Williams, COO of Apple, said hopes were high for the project: “By working in collaboration with Biogen, we hope that this study can help the medical community better understand the cognitive performance of an person by simply having it interact with their Apple Watch and iPhone. We are eager to discover the impact our technology can have on improving health through better detection of cognitive health decline.

Is it also exploring other areas?

Apple is also involved in a research project with Duke University in North Carolina in the United States that aims to create an algorithm to detect autism in children. One of the potential methods would be to use the iPhone’s camera to observe how young children concentrate.

Are our phones really becoming extensions of ourselves?

As we all know, they are far from simple ways to call family and friends. From taking photos to watching movies, they are a part of our lives and can now enable early intervention in our health care.

Is the cell phone really king?

Last year, a study found that 84% of Britons own a smartphone, spending an average of 2 hours and 34 minutes online on their smartphone per day, with more than one in five minutes spent online on social media.

Are some of us definitely addicted?

Do you recognize any symptoms? Smartphone addiction – known as “nomophobia” or “no mobile phone phobia” – is also known as “disconnection syndrome”; a fear of being offline. Symptoms are said to include anxiety, profuse sweating, disorientation, breathing alterations, tremors, and restlessness … which one suspects could confuse any iPhone once it is. again under the control of the user.


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