Apple studies how iPhone and Apple Watch can detect dementia

Apple’s commitment to health and wellness research continues to increase: now Cupertino has started a project to understand how Apple Watch and iPhone can detect the first signs of dementia.

It is not the first time that Apple has turned its attention and is committed to addressing this problem: a few months ago, at the beginning of May 2019, it presented the study entitled App Usage Predicts Cognitive Ability in Older Adults (the use of app predicts cognitive skills in the elderly, ed), during the course of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems which took place in Glasgow (Scotland).

This time Apple has not moved on its own: in collaboration with Eli Lilly, a well-known global pharmaceutical company based in Indianapolis, and together with the health startup Evidation, it would be working to find ways to identify more quickly and with more possible cognitive disturbances with the help of commonly used tools such as Apple Watch and iPhone.

The first results obtained with this research were published on 8 August 2019. At work on this project, there are five Apple researchers, five employees of Eli Lilly and five of Evidation. The research focuses on people with iPhones, Apple Watch and a Beddit sleep detector (Beddit was bought by Apple two years ago).

During the initial phase of the study – which for 12 weeks included a healthy group of 82 people and 31 individuals with varying stages of cognitive decline and dementia – those who participated were asked to avoid taking drugs that could affect results and everyone received iPhones, Apple Watch and a Beddit sleep detector.

The Beddit sleep monitor

The first findings showed that people with symptoms of cognitive decline typed more slowly, less regularly and sent fewer text messages than healthy participants. However, the study did not draw conclusions and the researchers stated the need for further analysis. 

This study – yet another example of Apple’s growing healthcare efforts – is the first to link Apple to Eli Lilly.  Apple has collaborated in the past with Stanford Medicine for the Apple Heart Study, which has been defined as the largest ever study of its kind.

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