Apple has just made official the Apple Watch, trying to redefine the nascent smartwatch market. The company has also announced a discounted Apple TV and a brand new and quite impressive MacBook. Apple also announced ResearchKit, a new iOS framework which is meant to help medical research studies and will also empower iPhone users to become more knowledgeable about their personal health.
ResearchKit is described as a software framework that is designed to benefit medical research. Along with HealthKit, Apple says these ‘become amazing research tools’. By using its impressive number of iPhone users (they just announced that they have soled more than 700 million units so far), the company is looking to crowdsource medical research.
And while this is a great way to help the medical industry pro-bono, I think Apple is doing this also to raise awareness about its focus on health, which, ultimately, could make a consumer be interested in acquiring a dedicated device, such as the new Apple Watch. But leaving this thought aside, ResearchKit is actually a opt-in program for users to share their HealthKit data with medical researchers in order to better understand and fight diseases.
At the moment, the platform is focusing on Parkinson’s Disease, Breast Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Asthma, and Diabeties. Apple has worked with research institutes around the world, such as the University of Rochester and Sage Bionetworks, which created mPower, an app using ResearchKit to conduct Parkinson’s disease research. Apple has also partnered with Penn Medicine, the Michael J. Fox Foundation Oxford, Stanford Medicine and others for the rest of the apps.
Thus, anyone with an iPhone will be able contribute to Parkinson’s research or any other disease which currently has an app, by turning their device into a diagnostic tool. This is possible thanks to various functions associated with the touch screen, the accelerometer and the microphone.
It’s been announced that Research Kit will also be open source, and that Apple won’t collect any sensitive medical data, which is a welcome move in this times when privacy is so much under debate. Research Kit is said to be available from next month, but you can already download the initial five apps.