Apple Unveils iPhone Tool to Build Research Apps

March 09, 2015

Apple today introduced a software tool called ResearchKit for its ubiquitous iPhone that allows researchers to build medical apps that, in turn, collect patient data on the fly from device users.

The first five medical apps built with ResearchKit, for Parkinson's disease, breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and asthma, are now available on Apple's App Store.

ResearchKit relies on the iPhone's microphone, touchscreen, and motion sensor to capture patient data. With the Parkinson mPower app, for example, patients can record their symptoms by saying "ahhh," tapping the screen, or carrying the telephone while they walk. The app allows patients to sign up for clinical studies and provide informed consent.

"To think that this device that you use to check your mail can be used to battle disease is simply amazing," said Michael O'Reilly, MD, Apple's vice president of medical technology, at a media event in San Francisco, California, where it also unveiled its much-hyped Apple Watch.

ResearchKit will become available to app designers in April. Because it is open-source software, ResearchKit can be used by anyone.


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