This week, Apple released details of its new software platform ResearchKit, which was announced yesterday alongside the launch of the new Apple Watch and updated MacBook. ResearchKit was designed to give medical researchers amazing new tools to help combat a variety of ailments that impact millions of people worldwide. ResearchKit is already being used for five medical apps, and many more are coming in the near future.
ResearchKit is a valuable, flexible tool that allows medical researchers and healthcare professionals collect and analyze data in the fights against asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Apps built on the platform can help researchers organize studies, recruit long-distance study participants, and compare their data with a larger network of researchers working toward the same goals.
At the March 9 launch event, Apple’s senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams demonstrated some of the coolest features of apps built on the ResearchKit platform. In the app designed to aid in Parkinson’s research, for example, a patient has only to hold an iPhone or other Apple device with the app running, and the internal movement sensors of the device pick up their tremors and translate the data into solid information that researchers need. There aren’t many other methods for collecting this type of specific data about how the symptoms of Parkinson’s actually impact a patient’s mobility, so Apple has really filled a gap with the development of ResearchKit.
“With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Williams. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”
ResearchKit is also an open-source platform, which means app developers will have free access to its tools starting in April. Apple hopes this will make it easier and faster for innovative solutions to come to market, translating into helping even more people around the globe.