Along with Apple’s much hyped and anticipated announcement of the Apple Watch today at its “Spring Forward” event, there was also the introduction of the “ResearchKit” – a software framework specifically designed for medical research on a massive, yet personal, scale.
Developed with such partners as Oxford, Stanford Medicine, and the American Heart Association, the Research Kit already has apps available for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and the software will be Open Source, so any doctor or institution with a question will be able to design an app to help answer it.
Users can apply the apps to test themselves for various medical conditions and then decide a) if they want to participate in a study and b) how their data is shared. If they’re already using components in the iPhone’s HealthKit to track their daily activity, heart rate, nutrition, etc., those parameters can be added for a much more complete picture. (And with hundreds of millions of iPhones around the globe, even a statistically small participation rate could yield amounts of data that researchers can currently only dream of.)
Technology has a way of being used in ways that it’s inventors never imagined. (Just ask the pioneers of the internet.) It’s a safe bet that the first designers of the iPhone didn’t see it facilitating worldwide medical research, but nevertheless, here we are. And this could be, as one researcher puts it, “a gamechanger.”
You can find more information about the ResearchKit here.