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Apple is Working on Mental Health Monitoring

Apple is working on features designed to detect depression, anxiety, autism, and the cognitive decline that can develop into Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia. The news was reported in the Wall Street journal on Tuesday.

The depression and cognitive decline features would reportedly use extensive personal data collected by sensors on Apple devices like iPhones and Apple Watches, including information about users’ sleep patterns, physical activity, typing behavior and more.The company is working on the effort with the researchers from the University of California, who are studying stress, anxiety and depression. The company is also collaborating with drugmaker Biogen Inc., which is researching cognitive decline.

A report showed that the company collaborated with Duke University, uses the iPhone’s camera to observe young children’s physical behavior and help detect autism.  The company did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the report. This project is still in early research stages, and it’s unclear if they will ever lead to a product that is introduced to the public.

A 2019 study from researchers at the University of Arizona found that smartphone dependency among 18 to 20 year-olds predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness. Biogen, the company that is reportedly collaborating with Apple to detect signs of cognitive decline, is behind a controversial $56,000-a-year Alzheimer’s drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June. The advisers to the FDA raised concerns that the drug was ineffective and even criticized the FDA’s own staff for what it called an overly positive review.

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