Apple launched ResearchKit, its iOS-based platform for clinical research, in March with an initial class of five trials focused on a range of health conditions. Nearly seven months later, the tech giant is welcoming three new trials focused on epilepsy, autism, and melanoma.
ResearchKit was designed to upend how medical research is done. Until now, researchers were mostly limited to who they could recruit based on geographic proximity. By moving a clinical trial onto a mobile device like the iPhone, it opens up a goldmine of data for researchers. Within days of the initial launch, the five studies had thousands of new participants with a diversity of location, background, age and health. That trend has continued, Apple said, helped by more efficient on-boarding via streamlined informed consent and the wealth of data collected by connected devices.
“Researchers have been able to get infinitely richer data sets than before,” said Bud Tribble, MD, PhD, vice president of software engineering at Apple. “Apple has helped accelerate medical research by creating a simple way for scientists to greatly expand the scope of their studies, and this is critical to helping researchers succeed.”
Apple doesn’t directly design the apps. That is all done by the academic and medical institutions running the studies. Instead, the company focuses on providing an open-source framework that’s specially designed for medical and health research. All of which takes advantage of the iPhone’s accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and camera. One of the latest studies even builds in the Apple Watch.
Below are the three latest studies launching on ResearchKit and what they hope to achieve.