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Apple unveils ResearchKit, new framework for collecting medical information

Apple has launched a new initiative to tackle the problem of not having enough medical participants for research, by making all 700 million iPhones potential candidates.

A new open source framework called ResearchKit was launched at the event yesterday, connecting all of the people willing to give health information to established medical research facilities.

The end goal is to give medical facilities a huge sample size from different people all over the world, different age groups and different health issues. Currently, one of the shortcomings of medical research is that the participants all have already contracted the disease, or fit into a common group of people already overviewed.

Apple is launching five apps to allow every iOS users to participate, by doing short-tests on Parkinson’s, breast cancer, cardiovascular, asthma and diabetes diseases. Not only will the tests declare if you have signs of the disease, but it will help medical researchers find new focus points for a disease.

With the user’s consent, health information will also be extracted out of the Health app, allowing medical researchers to attain anonymous health information from millions of users.

Apple made sure to inform users that these data samples would be anonymous, and neither Apple nor the health agency will be able to see who you are, or any personal information.

This radical collection of health data is what medical researchers have been calling for, but there has never been a platform that is capable of tracking lots of different health related activities, which is also owned by millions of people - until now.

ResearchKit will be available for medical apps as of today, and the five apps will be available in the next few months.

Apple seems extremely committed to health and fitness - one of the key parts of the Apple Watch announcement was health and fitness applications. ResearchKit is an extension of this push by Apple to make the world a healthier place, but it might be hard to win users over to taking the tests.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.