Apple’s expansion into the health sector will continue with mental health, and new algorithms capable of detecting depression and anxiety.
The apple company has become the main source of medical data for millions of people, thanks to its Apple Watch and the Health app on the iPhone ; and mental health has always been important, with the detection of stress or functions such as that which helps us breathe.
Now, The Wall Street Journal says that Apple will go a step further, using the data and sensors of the iPhone to detect if the user may have depressive signs. To achieve this, it has started two separate projects, each one started with a different entity and with a different approach.
On the one hand, the ‘Seabreeze’ project with the University of California, focuses on using the iPhone cameras to detect facial expressions , and associates them with other indicators such as the way of speaking (recorded with the microphones), the speed at the that we type (detected with the keyboard) the way we walk and more. In addition, it uses data from the Apple Watch related to vital signs and sleep.
The research focuses on detecting depression and anxiety based on a questionnaire about the user’s emotions and the levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, in the hair of the volunteers.
At the same time, Apple has a partnership with Biogen, a pharmaceutical company that bases its research on a 2019 study that showed that users with cognitive impairment used the iPhone differently than those without. It also uses data from the iPhone and Apple Watch to collect data that shows this behavior.
If it seems a lot more complicated than all of Apple’s health features, that’s because it is. Mental health is one of the aspects of the human body that is least known about, and the amount and variety of data required to make a diagnosis is far greater than that of other ailments. That is why Apple would not be depending only on the information obtained with the Apple Watch, but would also add that obtained with the iPhone.
This leak fits in with Apple’s latest moves related to mental health; With the launch of the iPhone 13 , the company announced an expansion of its Fitness + service, which now includes meditation and relaxation exercises.