ResearchKit now available to medical researchers

Apple announced today that ResearchKit is now available to researchers and developers. As you may recall, ResearchKit is a software framework that's designed to help doctors, scientists, and other researchers gather data with more frequency and accuracy by using the sensors built into iPhone.

ResearchKit, which is open source, allows any medical researcher to take advantage of specific modules to speed the development of research study apps and to also build new modules for submission to be adopted as part of ResearchKit. The initial modules address:

  • Participant consent: customizable template that can be customized to explain the study and obtain participant signatures. The module can even add video segments explaining the study and an interactive quiz to confirm participant understanding.
  • Surveys: A pre-built user interface making it easy to customize questions and answers for participants to complete and share with researchers.
  • Active Tasks: This module enables researchers to gather targeted data for studies by asking participants to perform that capture data from iPhone's sensors. Active Task modules include tasks to measure motor activities, fitness, cognition and voice, and the research community is invited to contribute more active tasks to ResearchKit. 

In other news, IBM announced that it has partnered with Apple for the launch of Watson Health Cloud, which will provide a way for researchers to draw on anonymous data from HealthKit and ResearchKit. 

Watson, of course, is IBM's "Artificial Intelligence" engine that handily beat a Jeopardy! contestant a few years ago. Through Watson's data-mining and predictive analytics capabilities, Health Cloud will make it possible to store, aggregate, and model data, then combine it with other data sources and types to "enrich research findings."