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Apple launches new research software programme

Tech firm made the announcement during the promotion of its new smart watch

iPhone 

Apple has made deeper inroads into health with the unveiling of a new software programme that will turn the firm's iPhone into a diagnostic tool.

The new 'ResearchKit' software platform will be able to draw medical data from millions of its customers - with their consent - in what will be a major boost for real-world data researchers.  

With the new software Apple will be able to take data gleaned from its Health app and share it with doctors and scientists to use in medical research, according to chief executive Tim Cook, who spoke about ResearchKit at an Apple event in San Francisco yesterday, where its new Apple Watch was being launched. 

The healthcare information stored could include a user's weight, blood pressure and activity levels, as well as information on chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and breast cancer. 

Apple's apps “already help millions of customers track and improve their health”, said Jeff Williams, Apple's senior VP of operations. 

He went on: “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.” 

ResearchKit will work much like other health-tracking technology tools such as wristwear wearable fitness trackers from the likes of Fitbit's that can generate reams of data on people's health and activity levels, as well as other watches and devices from Samsung and Nike. 

Apple will have far greater reach than these firms, however, given its large smartphone market share and brand following. 

The latest release builds on the company's HealthKit software, now an integral part of the iOS8 platform, which can track steps taken, weight, body fat and other health-related data, and was released in September last year with its new iPhone 6 range. 

But most of these data must be added in by the user - ResearchKit will go one step further in its diagnostic capabilities - something lacking in HealthKit.

Exact details remain vague, but Apple says that researchers will be able to ask for access to the accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors in the iPhone “to gain insight into a patient's gait, motor impairment, fitness, speech and memory”. 

Apple will also use a cross-platform approach and use separate devices made by other companies that will allow the iPhone to also gather information. This includes data on glucose levels and asthma inhaler use, all of which should help to build a more sophisticated, data-driven diagnostic tool. 

Article by
Ben Adams

10th March 2015

From: Marketing

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