Apple is branching out from just being an expensive hardware maker, and is working to make its devices friendlier to those in the medical profession. The Apple ResearchKit, introduced last night, is “a software framework made specifically for medical research”. Of course, this is a fancy way of saying that it makes it easier to create medical diagnosis apps for Apple devices.
The main idea here is to gather as much information as possible about medical conditions, which would make it easier for researchers to understand how widespread diseases are. Data collection is often a massive problem for scientists and doctors who lack a single database to reference, and Apple is preparing to step in to help.
ResearchKit is open source, and Apple is already working with several institutions, including the University of Rochester and Sage Bionetworks, to develop apps that would help in diagnosing specific health problems. A few apps, that are able to diagnose conditions like Parkinsons and breast cancer, were demoed at Apple’s event; users can expect more to appear in the Apple eco-system if this catches on.
As the most popular smartphone in the world, the iPhone has massive potential for this kind of data collection. There will be a large number of users who opt out of providing information, and it is likely that even more will simply not use the apps developed. However, this should still provide even more responses than the current data gathering methods used by researchers.
A handful of apps are being made available today, and ResearchKit will be made available by next month.