Apple’s ResearchKit Turns iPhones into Medical Devices

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Apple recently released ResearchKit, an open-source software platform that allows scientists to gather medical data using an individual’s own iPhone.  According to The Asian Age, the new platform allows iPhone users to easily and voluntarily join medical research studies while deciding how their data is shared with researchers.

ResearchKit enables researchers to learn about a patient’s gait, motor impairment, fitness, speech, and memory by accessing the iPhone’s built-in sensors (e.g., accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors).  The new software builds on Apple’s HealthKit software, which was announced last year.  HealthKit allows applications that provide health and fitness services to share their data with HealthKit and with each other.  With the release of ResearchKit, users will be able to send data gathered through the HealthKit application, such as information on blood pressure, weight, blood glucose levels, and exercise habits, to medical researchers partnering with Apple.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Operations, said:

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.

Several research institutions, such as Stanford University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College, have already partnered with Apple to create software applications for ResearchKit for use in clinical studies on asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

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