New Study Aims to Determine Whether iPhone and Apple Watch Can Detect Early Signs of Dementia

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has partnered with pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and health startup Evidation to determine whether data collected from the iPhone and Apple Watch can be used to detect early signs of dementia.

    A research paper published this week and shared by CNBC lists researchers from Eli Lilly, Apple, and Evidation Health. The paper, called "Developing Measures of Cognitive Impairment in the Real World from Consumer-Grade Multimodal Sensor Streams," explores whether sensor data and activity info from smart watch devices can be mined for "physiological and behavior signatures of cognitive impairment."

    According to the abstract, 31 people with cognitive impairment and 82 without cognitive impairment were monitored over a 12-week period, with 16TB of data collected. The study claims that the data was able to be used to differentiate people with early signs of cognitive impairment from those who were healthy.

    People who had symptoms of cognitive decline typed more slowly, typed less regularly, relied more heavily on support apps, and sent fewer text messages. The study did not reach long-term conclusions as more analysis is needed.

    In a statement to CNBC, Evidation co-founder Christine Lemke said that data collected from the iPhone, Apple Watch, and Beddit sleep monitors was used for the study. Apple acquired the company behind the Beddit sleep monitor back in 2017.
    Early detection of dementia is important because an early diagnosis can allow for better management of symptoms and quality of life improvements even though the progression of the disease can't be stopped. According to the World Health Organization, 50 million people around the world have dementia, with close to 10 million new cases surfacing every year.

    Article Link: New Study Aims to Determine Whether iPhone and Apple Watch Can Detect Early Signs of Dementia
  2. BootsWalking, Aug 7, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

    BootsWalking macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2014
    One way to detect dementia is by counting the number of times an owner uses the 'Find My Phone/Watch' feature every week :)
  3. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Crazy. I mean, to see the advancements that technology is making in the wearables sector is incredible (Which also explains it’s growth). EKG, fall detection, wheelchair capabilities on the Apple Watch and possibly detecting dementia, this is what’s making the future for wearables a ‘must have’ versus what once started primarily as a notification device.
  4. macduke, Aug 7, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

    macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Did they control for age? Because if not, congrats, you determined that those people are old, and like 99% of people with dementia are old.

    Edit: Ok, this part from the paper gives me pause:

    Ok, it looks like they did match ages, but not genders, and the sample size is kinda small.

    Seems like it still correlates, but not as strongly, when controlling for age? Hmmm. Don't have time to read the full thing in-depth but would love to hear from someone who did.
  5. Naraxus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2016
    This would be amazing. Dementia is a horrible horrible disease that takes every last bit of dignity from you. The earlier the detection, the earlier the planning can begin or even cure it.
  6. FightTheFuture macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    that town east of ann arbor
    Exactly. This is what we need from wearables. Let your phone handle Postmates orders and photography. Your tablet - tasks for work and pleasure. An always on, always worn device should be telling us more about our own body.
  7. mikeheenan macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2007
    I wonder how accurate this is. The watch is a horrible calculator of steps. I work in retail and it records almost every single arm movement as a step. Heck, I can get 25 steps driving my car at times.
  8. lostngone macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2003
    I know it already knows I can't spell worth a damn.....
  9. Neepman macrumors 6502

    Jul 31, 2008
    Boy. Talk about a slippy slope. Ring the right algorithm bell and be in front of the death panel the next day.
  10. now i see it, Aug 7, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

    now i see it macrumors 68040

    Jan 2, 2002
    They've lost their mind.
    (I hope I didn't type that too slowly).
    Any old person wearing an A-Watch now will now be under suspicion that they're concerned they're developing dementia.
    "Oh he has that dementia surveillance watch on his wrist".
  11. GrumpyMom macrumors G3


    Sep 11, 2014
    Oh crap.
  12. Doc C macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2013

    Unfortunately, this is a problem with a lot of (medical) studies of this size - it can be difficult to build appropriately matched cohorts without having very large sample sizes (thus having random sampling variation minimize some of the variability). Even in larger trials, it isn't unheard of for minor (statistically non-significant) variations between cohorts to account for the difference found in the study, when all of them are considered on an aggregate basis.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 7, 2019 ---
    No no - that's a "feature"

    like when my son texted that he lost his pen. And autocorrect thought he forgot the "is" at the end of the word.
  13. The Cappy macrumors regular

    Nov 9, 2015
    Dunwich Fish Market
    Because...? If it said you were going to develop Alzheimer's, we've just ruined your life for no good reason. It's not like we have preventative medicines. The only thing you might do is what you're supposed to do anyway which is to be as healthy as possible in other respects so you are more resilient when the dementia gets its teeth into you.

    But what will happen instead is that, armed with this cognitive death sentence, far more people will greet the early dementia with fatalism and surrender. This is why we shouldn't (and generally don't) do DNA tests on family members of Alzheimer's patients to see if they're at high risk.
  14. Lalatoon macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2019
  15. 69Mustang macrumors 604


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    {reads headline aloud}
    "New... study... aims... to determine... whether... iPhone... and Apple Watch... can... detect... early... signs of... dementia"

    /paces nervously
    /hurriedly picks up phone

    Calls for missle strike on Apple HQ [via Twitter]
    -Aide's boss
  16. PickUrPoison, Aug 7, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

    PickUrPoison macrumors 601

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    Yikes what country do you live in? You might want to consider moving, for your own safety. But I think this will be very useful, especially for those who have a family history of dementia or early-onset dementia. There are also other forms of cognitive impairment that can mimic dementia, which this could possibly detect and lead to effective treatment.
  17. robjulo macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2010
    You know of a “cure” for dementia. Let the NE Journal of Medicine know. Perhaps you’ll win a Nobel prize.

  18. Edsel macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2010
    Over There
    My mother had dementia and it is a weird disease. They can be perfectly normal one minute then think my wife has of 30 years was my girlfriend, my mother thought I was my Father. She stormed away angry that I had a “girlfriend”.

    So, as an oldster now, I worry that I might get dementia. There are moments when I find myself thinking about the past. Will I get dementia? I will never know but my family will. Godspeed to the scientists and medical professionals for trying to root out this affliction that effects so many.
  19. Suttree macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2018
    I know nothing about medicine and have zero medical training and knowledge, yet even I know this study is bunk. My mom asked me why am I still living at home, depriving this world of my sage knowledge and skillset when I can be goodly remunerated and leave a positive impact rather than merely armchair quarterbacking. But it is obvious this study is plain bunk with only 31 subjects. Common sense. Simple as that.
  20. CarlJ macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2004
    San Diego, CA, USA
    What death panel?
    --- Post Merged, Aug 7, 2019 ---
    Reading too fast still, and not stopping to sound out some of the words.
  21. robjulo macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2010
    You don’t have to have knowledge in anything to be an expert on macrumors. I’ve seen at least a couple dozen posters on here who are experts in everything from semi conductor engineering to bank finance to marketing to healthcare. Especially so when their master needs to be defended.

  22. steve23094 macrumors 68030


    Apr 23, 2013
    It’s not whether the Apple Watch can detect dementia per se, of course the study is way too limited to show that. Buts it’s an interesting proof of concept. Can a device be leveraged to make a correlation between it’s normal day to day use to show signs of a specific illness? The answer here is ‘maybe’, and it’s worth investigating further.
  23. FourDegrees macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2017
    "31 people with cognitive impairment and 82 without cognitive impairment were monitored"

    "The study did not reach long-term conclusions as more analysis is needed."

    it's a start. There's nothing definitive in these results. Rather more of a suggestion of how useful these wrist-worn devices might become.
  24. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    I think that family and friends can probably do a better job detecting it.
  25. spinedoc77 macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2009
    Fairly amusing that what I think will be found as one of the major causes of dementia is being used to detect dementia. No there isn't any hard research to back that up, just my personal opinion but it is something that doctors talk about and is being researched. I don't mean to single out smartphones though, they fall into a lot of technology which doesn't necessarily have to be new such as television and computers. Smartphones just really seem to have accelerated the process of dopamine overload and addiction as they are always with you.

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