Apple’s series of smartwatches are wonderful pieces of technology. They’re able to perform simple tasks like answering phone calls or act as a compass. But they’re also able to perform far more complicated tasks like monitor your heart rate or track your sleep.
Now, Apple are using its watches to better understand symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thanks to help from University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA], Apple is launching a new 3-year-study to figure out how factors like sleep and physical activity can impact your mental health.
The study is scheduled to start August, 7 and will initially involve 150 participants drawn from the UCLA Health medical center. Next year UCLA will expand the study to include and additional 3,000 individuals and students, according to Engadet.
“The three-year study, which begins this week, was co-designed by researchers at UCLA and Apple to obtain objective measures of factors such as sleep, physical activity, heart rate and daily routines to illuminate the relationship between these factors and symptoms of depression and anxiety,” explains Bill Kisliuk from UCLA.
Apple will supply those involved in the experiment with smartwatches and Beddit devices which will work in conjunction with the Beddit application which participants must download to their iPhones. Beddit is a specialty sleep tracker that was acquired by Apple in 2017.
According to Dr. Nelson Freimer, director of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, “Current approaches to treating depression rely almost entirely on the subjective recollections of depression sufferers. This is an important step for obtaining objective and precise measurements that guide both diagnosis and treatment.”
Apple and UCLA hopes the experiment will lead to a breakthrough that could give healthcare workers a more reliable way to spot the symptoms of depression and potentially prevent depressive episodes.