Jeff Williams introduces Apple’s medical research kit — Reuters/Robert Galbraith
Apple just released ResearchKit, an open-source software tool designed to give scientists a new way to gather information on patients by using their iPhones.
Several top research institutions have already developed applications to work on the ResearchKit platform, including those pursuing clinical studies on asthma, breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. They include Stanford University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College.
The format will allow users to decide if they want to participate in a study and decide how their data is to be shared with researchers…
The ResearchKit platform is designed to work hand in hand with Apple’s HealthKit software, which allows iPhones to work with health and fitness apps that gather information on weight, blood pressure, glucose levels and asthma inhaler use.
The ResearchKit also allows researchers access to accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors in the iPhone to gain insight into a patient’s gait, motor impairment, fitness, speech and memory.
The software is also designed to help researchers build more diverse study populations, which traditionally have been limited by physical proximity to large academic medical centres.
My wife teases me – calls me her personal emoticon. And I admit I cried a little when Tim Cook and Jeff Williams were introducing ResearchKit.
The primary cause of my mom’s death was Parkinson’s. She devoted a lot of her life to the American Heart Association. I’ve done some similar things; but, the best was being able to volunteer as a human test subject for one ailment that, right now, still affects millions of people. Shingles. My mom suffered through some painful episodes and it pleased me much to be in the final test cycle of the Shingles vaccine before it was approved.
That was a big deal because it included several thousand volunteers nationwide. With ResearchKit, computational analysis of everything from day-by-day, minute-by-minute tracking of symptoms, response, exercise, a great deal of information previously only available from small groups, narrow demographics – can now be collated from millions of volunteers.
Doctors, researchers, universities worldwide can develop apps to fit their particular needs. And you decide what you wish to participate in – if at all.
You decide whether or not you are anonymous. You decide the boundaries for your participation. Apple sees none of the information. It’s all up to you.
Tim Cook and the designers at Apple feel the potential for this concept is so important — they’re making the SDK open source and developers can proceed on any platform they wish. You won’t have to own Apple products to participate.