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Rumor Claims watchOS 7 Will Have 'Mental Health Capabilities' to Detect Panic Attacks

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple's next-generation Apple Watch and watchOS 7 will focus on new mental health capabilities, according to leaker Jon Prosser who recently spoke on the Geared Up podcast. The mention of new Apple Watch features comes towards the end of the podcast.


The next-generation version of the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 6, has been rumored to include a blood oxygen sensor, which Prosser says Apple will take advantage of to implement new mental health-related features, such as detecting panic attacks.
What their biggest focus on is right now and I hope it comes this year, it might come next year, but I hope it's coming to WWDC is mental health capabilities. Where they can take the oxygen levels in your blood with your heart rate and determine if you're hyperventilating.

They can identify a panic attack before it happens and warn you on your watch. Especially if you're driving, they'll ask you to pull over and they'll offer breathing exercises once you get pulled over.
Prosser says that while he hopes the feature is released this year, "it might come next year." He also says he hopes for a WWDC unveiling, but if the new feature relies on a blood oxygen sensor in an unreleased version of the Apple Watch, it's not likely Apple will unveil the capability until the fall when new Apple Watch models that support it are released.

There is, however, a possibility that it will be revealed at WWDC if older Apple Watch models have a latent ability to detect blood oxygen level, which is not clear at this time, or if the feature does not involve blood oxygen monitoring.

The panic attack detecting rumor was first shared by EverythingApplePro and leaker Max Weinbach back in April, who said that the Apple Watch will also be able to determine when a user is experiencing high levels of stress. Weinbach and EverythingApplePro did not suggest the feature would rely on blood oxygen monitoring, however, and said that it would be available on the Apple Watch Series 4 or later.

Hints that blood oxygen tracking capabilities are coming to a future version of the Apple Watch were found in a leaked version of iOS 14. Blood oxygen monitoring is an important feature because a drop in blood oxygen levels can suggest a serious respiratory or cardiac problem that requires immediate medical attention.

Multiple prior rumors from Bloomberg and other sources have also indicated that the next-generation Apple Watch and watchOS 7 will include sleep tracking features, allowing the Apple Watch to measure sleep quality, length, and other metrics.

Article Link: Rumor Claims watchOS 7 Will Have 'Mental Health Capabilities' to Detect Panic Attacks
 
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Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
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Apple has been using a plethysmograph to detect heart rate since series 0 on the Apple watch. This can technically measure oxygen level as well. This means that this feature can likely come to all watches.

To quote iFixit:
Apple’s heart rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph that looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn’t claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level.

Source: https://www.ifixit.com/News/7158/apple-watch-teardown-2
 
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swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
I don't think this is true or if it is, I don' think it will work accurately detect panic attacks. The panic itself is largely induced by increased carbon dioxide, not oxygen. I've had panic attacks while wearing a pulse ox, and I have not seen a change. A plethysmograph can also detect breathing rate, like in the MightySat, which might give a better clue, but the problem is that there are so many physiological states that could cause increased breathing rate and pulse besides panic that the feature would be useless except to say "something is wrong."
 
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jclo

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Dec 7, 2012
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Apple has been using a plethysmograph to detect heart rate since series 0 on the Apple watch. This can technically measure oxygen level as well. This means that this feature can likely come to all watches.

To quote iFixit:
Apple’s heart rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph that looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn’t claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level.

Source: https://www.ifixit.com/News/7158/apple-watch-teardown-2

If it could accurately measure blood oxygen levels up to Apple's standards, why wouldn't it have been included as a previous feature given the health value of that kind of capability? Could be that it's not accurate enough in older sensors, or there's been an FDA restriction. Either way, I don't know enough to say confidently which Apple Watch models will get that support.
 
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BootsWalking

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Feb 1, 2014
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I'm sure it'll be a great watch and OS but I'm not buying anything made in China ever again, at least as much as I can help it. It's time for us to stop complaining and finally do something about a country that exhibits such callous disregard for human life. I'll use my iPhone 8 until the wheels fall off, after which hopefully Apple will have moved some production of US-bound handsets elsewhere. If not then it's a S. Korean phone for me (Samsung/LG), which I guess means Android will become my daily-driver.
 
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Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
141
339
If it could accurately measure blood oxygen levels up to Apple's standards, why wouldn't it have been included as a previous feature given the health value of that kind of capability? Could be that it's not accurate enough in older sensors, or there's been an FDA restriction. Either way, I don't know enough to say confidently which Apple Watch models will get that support.

Correct, iFixit cites it as likely being an FDA regulation.
 
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ceriess

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2003
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Is it able to predict whats going to happen? Because from what I know, panic attacks are situational. AND I KNOW that there is at least ONE of you who will want to debate that. I'm not interested. And you are wrong.
 
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pdaholic

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Jun 22, 2011
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This feature will be so useful to determine if I’m having actually having a panic attack when I piss my pants on a plane.
 
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Ghost31

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Jun 9, 2015
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This feature will be so useful to determine if I’m having actually having a panic attack when I piss my pants on a plane.
I mean do you normally piss your pants on a plane without a panic attack? Pissing pants is usually a symptom of something. Unless you were just cold and wanted some warmth
 
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Ombatay

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Feb 26, 2008
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I don't think this is true or if it is, I don' think it will work accurately detect panic attacks. The panic itself is largely induced by increased carbon dioxide, not oxygen. I've had panic attacks while wearing a pulse ox, and I have not seen a change. A plethysmograph can also detect breathing rate, like in the MightySat, which might give a better clue, but the problem is that there are so many physiological states that could cause increased breathing rate and pulse besides panic that the feature would be useless except to say "something is wrong."
This. Completely agree. Your blood oxygen saturation levels should be normal before you're hyperventilating (normal breathing). They'll still be normal when you're hyperventilating. The only thing that will really change with rapid breathing will be carbon dioxide levels. (The faster you breathe, the more CO2 you blow off, which was some of the logic behind the old school (and no longer recommended) remedy of breathing into a paper bag. If I rebreathe my exhaled CO2 my CO2 level won't drop!).

Monitoring HR/breathing rate might have a hard time distinguishing between a workout vs a panic attack.

I hope if they do put a pulse oximeter in the watch that it's a good one, and that it can detect/gives you the ability to see the pulse ox waveform (like the mightysat) so you know if the reading is accurate. Pulse oximeters, when not getting a clean read/good waveform have a tendency to report erroneously low levels...
 
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SAIRUS

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Aug 21, 2008
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I’m going to break the battery...so hopefully they get this working.
 
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tranceking26

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Apr 16, 2013
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While I appreciate better tools for mental health more than most, I would probably freak out easily over this.

Be interesting to see, as they'll no doubt have real life/people usage as a demo.
 
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Mr. Dee

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Dec 4, 2003
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I think its a good feature. Today, I was assisting a customer over the phone and they snapped at me I should stop interrupting them. Immediately my head started to tighten, I could feel my heart race and my breathing decreased. When I finished the call, I was so livid from the customers behaviour. Then I felt the vibration on my risk, it said 'take a moment to relax and breathe to reduce stress'. I was so amazed and impressed that it actually felt my emotions. Thats exactly what I did to bring back some peace and calm and I was able focus on the next call with no issue.
 
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