Before Apple announced its shiny gold MacBook and revealed more details on the Apple Watch on Monday, it made a significant announcement that has been largely overlooked.
Apple is going to introduce ResearchKit, a new platform that medical researchers can use to collect medical data using Apple devices.
It might not sound like much, but combine some of the world’s top universities with millions of iPhones around the world, and there’s the potential to significantly expand how much data researchers have to work with.
A Piper Jaffray note published after the Apple event on Monday also made it clear that ResearchKit was a big deal. Here’s what it said:
We believe ResearchKit was certainly the most important announcement Apple made from a societal standpoint. We believe the potential for ResearchKit to help medical professionals to generate data to better inform studies can potentially accelerate developments in medical treatments. Bigger picture, we believe it shows that Apple is still one of the most forward thinking companies in mobile development (Apple Pay, ResearchKit, HomeKit, HealthKit) and solidifies iOS as a hub for both individuals and corporations.
ResearchKit is open source. That means that anyone can use Apple’s new framework to develop medical surveys and potentially cure diseases using data. The open source announcement was one of the first pieces of news at the Apple event on Monday that drew an audible reaction from the crowd.
Apple makes it clear in its web page for ResearchKit that it’s all about giving medical researchers as much data as they need to produce more accurate results. “Medical researchers need data. Lots of it,” Apple says.
ResearchKit surveys let medical researchers get all the legal stuff out the way on the iPhone, and then use its sensors to gather data.
Here’s what medical surveys could look like on the iPhone:
And in case you still weren’t convinced by how important ResearchKit is, here’s a collection of diseases that medical researchers are already investigating using ResearchKit: