Future iPhones could detect depression, autism in children, says report

"It aims to create an algorithm to help detect childhood autism, according to the documents and people familiar with the work."

What you need to know

  • Apple is reportedly working on major health upgrades to the iPhone.
  • A new report says that it is working on a feature that could detect depression and cognitive decline in users.
  • Apple is also reportedly trying to create an algorithm that could detect childhood autism.

A new report into Apple says the company is working on ways to detect depression, cognitive decline, and even childhood autism using future iPhones.

WSJ reports:

Apple Inc. is working on technology to help diagnose depression and cognitive decline, aiming for tools that could expand the scope of its burgeoning health portfolio, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The tech would use sensor data that includes mobility, activity, sleeping patterns, and more, using algorithms to detect changes that could indicate conditions like depression. Whilst the report notes the research is in early stages and could never make it to market, it states that Apple "hopes that would become the basis for unique features for its devices."

Alongside measuring depression and cognitive decline, Apple is also apparently working on building an algorithm that could detect childhood autism:

Apple has a third brain-related research partnership with Duke University that it hasn't disclosed. It aims to create an algorithm to help detect childhood autism, according to the documents and people familiar with the work. The research looks at using the iPhone's camera to observe how young children focus, how often they sway back and forth, and other measures, according to the documents.

Apple released iOS 15 this week for all of its best iPhones including iPhone 13. It includes new Health updates announced at WWDC including a new Walking Steadiness metric to help manage fall risk, as well as a new feature to store COVID-19 vaccination records or test results directly in the health app.

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