Apple is set to launch 3 new health studies using data from the iPhone and Apple Watch. Here’s what they plan to investigate.

  • Apple announced three new health studies during its annual event: a Women’s Health Study, Heart and Movement Study, and a Hearing Study, in partnership with academic and medical institutions.
  • The data will be collected from individual’s who choose to opt in to the data collection with their Apple Watch health data.
  • The new Apple Watch Series 5 was announced yesterday.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple announced three new health studies during its annual product-launch event, as the tech giant emphasises that its watch and phone can be healthcare tools.

Apple is launching a women’s health study, a heart and movement study, and a hearing study in partnership with academic and medical institutions. Data from Apple’s devices, ranging from how a person moves to how loud it is around them, will be used in the new studies.

Individuals can choose to opt into the studies and allow Apple to collect their data, using the Research app, which the company said will be available later this year. More details on the studies will be available when the studies launch later in the year, partners from the studies told Business Insider.

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The studies are a way to develop new medical insights from the millions of people who use Apple’s products. US consumer use of wearables such as Apple’s Watch jumped from 9% in 2014 to 33% in 2018, according to Accenture. And according to research from Business Insider Intelligence, more than 80% of consumers are willing to wear fitness technology.

The women’s health study will track menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions

The women’s health study will be conducted with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The goal is to create a longterm study focused on menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions. The focus of the study is help with screenings and assessments for conditions like infertility, osteoperosis and pregnancy.

“Women’s health in general, from basic physiology to the specificity of menstrual cycle characteristics, is understudied,” said Shruthi Mahalingaiah, an assistant professor at Harvard University for environmental reproductive and women’s health. “I’m excited to participate in a study of this scale and scope to fill the existing gap with the data and to look at areas of need, preventive measures, advancing health and moving forward possibly even with therapeutics.”

Mahalingaiah also noted the importance of the study’s potential reach, as anyone can participate, allowing for a larger and more diverse set of participants.

The hearing study will focus on noise exposure over time

In the hearing study Apple with work with researchers at the University of Michigan to evaluate individuals’ exposure to sound over time to see if it will affect their hearing. The study will be shared with the World Health Organisation as a contribution towards the Make Listening Safe Initiative, Apple said.

“The information gleaned from this partnership will be critical for us to address the public health impact of various noise exposures on hearing loss in the United States,” DuBois Bowman, dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health said.

A comprehensive study on heart health and mobility

The heart and movement study will partner with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association (AHA) on a comprehensive study that measures how heart rate and mobility, like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed, relate to hospitalizations, falls and heart health in order to promote improved cardiovascular health and movement.

The AHA will serve as the strategic lead partner for the project and scientists at Brigham and Women’s will conduct the research, Susan Grant, a spokesperson for AHA, told Business Insider.

Apple has been focused on developing new technology related to health for some time.

In January 2019, Cook said in an interview with CNBC: “If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind,’ it will be about health.”

In 2018, the Apple Watch Series 4 was cleared by the FDA to provide a single lead electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures a person’s heart rhythm. It can also tell if a person has fallen.

The Apple Heart Study

Earlier this year, Apple and Stanford University School of Medicine came out with the Apple Heart Study. The goal was to see if the Apple Watch and its heart-rate sensor could accurately detect irregularities in people’s heartbeat. Around 400,000 people participated in the study.

The watch appeared capable of picking up on abnormalities linked with a common but serious condition called atrial fibrillation or afib. Afib is an irregular heart beat, and people with the condition can experience shortness of breath and poor blood flow. The condition can also increase the risk of more serious problems like stroke and heart failure.

Concerns were also raised about whether the Apple Watch would flag people as having heart rate irregularities when those people had nothing wrong with their health, Business Insider reported.

Apple has been involved in medical research for the last four years. In 2015, the company launched ResearchKit, a tool allowing medical researchers to conduct studies using the iPhone. Apple used the ResearchKit to create the Apple Heart Study.

The company launched CareKit the following year. The tool allows people and companies to develop apps to monitor patients in real-time using sensors in the phone. The iPhone has also allowed users to log information about their physical activity, nutrition and sleep in the health app.

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