Forget the eye-candy Apple Watch. Forget the impossibly-thin MacBook. Forget the new, industry-standard, USB-C port. And especially forget the rumors about the iPhone 6s. As impressive as all of these products may be, they are nothing compared to the most important product to come out of Apple in years: Research Kit.
I know, “Research Kit” sounds like the most boring thing on the planet, right? I mean, who wants to hear about research? I’ll tell you who: anyone who suffers from (or knows someone who suffers from) any disease or sickness, ever.
Apple had a good start with helping people be more healthy when they introduced Heath Kit, which allows makers of exercise and wellness apps to link information together to help people improve their everyday health. I’m not gonna lie, there have been several occasions that I have taken the stairs instead of the elevator just because I knew my iPhone was tracking the number of flights of stairs I was ascending. And those Health benefits will only go up for owners of the AppleWatch, which will remind them to stand if they’ve been sitting for too long, remind them to get some exercise, and track their heart rate during workouts.
Research kit takes this to a whole new level. Apple started by working with medical leaders from hospitals, medical foundations, and universities to develop these research apps. So far they have research apps for Asthma, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Breast Cancer, and Cardiovascular Disease. Why is this important?
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez of the American Heart Association has this to say:
“Numbers are everything. The more people who contribute their data, the bigger the numbers, the truer the representation of a population, and the more powerful the results. A research platform that allows large amounts of data to be collected and shared — that can only be a positive thing for medical research.”
Basically, instead of medical researchers having to post flyers with phone numbers in the hopes that someone contacts them, or walking around hospitals with questionnaires, or getting unreliable data from surveys, they will be able to get real, measurable data from participant’s smart phones. Oh, did I mention that Apple has made research kit open-sourced, so that ANYONE can participate, whether they have an iPhone or not? Yeah. This is huge.
Right from their smart phone, participants will be able to decide what studies they want to be a part of, sign and give permission to use their information, and contribute to global medical research. And, of course, Apple will never see your medical information. Researchers will be able to see results instantly, from all across the globe. This really is a huge deal.
Here is an example of how easy this can be: the Parkinson’s disease app helps detect early warning signs by having users just tap back and forth on the screen and say “Ahh”. It’s that easy. Researchers take that information to track how Parkinson’s progresses, or help detect it early in patients.
This could very well change the face of modern medicine.