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Future iPhones could diagnose depression from a typo


In the future, the iPhone may be able to detect depression from the way a user types (AFP)

There’s a mountain of hearsay out there about depression, anxiety and mental health disorders linked to use of a smartphone.

But what if the phone itself could diagnose whether there was a problem?

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, that’s exactly what Apple is thinking about for future iPhones.

Apparently, the tech giant is exploring software that can distinguish whether a user is suffering from mental illness by the way they use the gadgets.

The 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 data that may be used includes analysis of participants’ facial expressions, how they speak, the pace and frequency of their walks, sleep patterns, and heart and respiration rates.

‘They may also measure the speed of their typing, frequency of their typos and content of what they type, among other data points, according to the people familiar with the research and the documents.’

As part of Apple’s commitment to privacy, the company is aiming for these insights to be carried out on the device itself and not communicated to Apple’s servers.

The calculations would be carried out on the phone itself to protect privacy (Getty)

The WSJ stresses that this work is at a very early stage. It’s known that things like depression can lead to different patterns of smartphone use. But it’s big leap to create algorithms that can specifically identify different conditions based on these markers.

Apple has recently jumped headlong into health and fitness with new improvements to the Apple Watch and a workout-guided subscription platform called Apple Fitness+.


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