Apple unveils ResearchKit, a new open source program for medical research

As part of its March press event, Apple announced the new ResearchKit that turns the iPhone and HealthKit into powerful medical research tools. The software framework can pull data from the Apple Watch and the Health app on iOS. Apps based on this framework will be able to provide researchers with data as they monitor asthma conditions, assess Parkinson symptoms and investigate diabetes. Participation by iOS device owners will be optional, and data will be stored and transmitted securely.

Partners in the ResearchKit program include Mount Sinai Hospital, Standford University and other major medical research hospitals and universities. Apple will debut the first five ResearchKit apps today and will be releasing the open source development kit sometime in April.

Our take on the news: This is a big announcement for Apple as it expands its health initiative beyond simply monitoring your activity level into something more powerful. ResearchKit will provide important data that the medical community needs as it tries to understand illnesses and cure diseases. Not only that, it also gives medical professionals and patients access to the same, very powerful diagnostic tool. What a game-changer.