Apple announces new ResearchKit studies for autism, epilepsy, melanoma

Apple says ResearchKit is enabling new research studies on autism, epilepsy and melanoma. The tool helps doctors, scientists and other researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using mobile devices.

"In just six months, ResearchKit apps studying everything from asthma and diabetes to Parkinson’s disease, are already providing insights to scientists around the world and more than 100,000 participants are choosing to contribute their data to advance science and medical research," says Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. 

With user permission, researchers designing studies using ResearchKit can also access data from the Health app such as weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, and other data measured by third-party devices and apps, to capture real-time data right from the iPhone. Access to the accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors in iPhone deliver additional insight into a participant’s gait, motor impairment, fitness, speech and memory, delivering more objective data to medical researchers.

Researchers and developers using the open source software framework continue to contribute to ResearchKit with new modules, active tasks and custom surveys. The Active Task module enables researchers to gather more targeted data for their study by inviting participants to perform activities that generate data using iPhone’s advanced sensors. Initial Active Task modules included tasks to measure motor activities, fitness, cognition and voice.

Williams says that more than 50 researchers have contributed active tasks to support new methods of research, including tasks to study tone audiometry for hearing loss; the ability to measure reaction time through delivery of a known stimulus to a known response; a timed walk test; PSAT to assess the speed of information processing and working memory, and the mathematical puzzle Tower of Hanoi often used for cognition studies. 

Additional contributions to the ResearchKit framework include iPad® support, image capture and the ability to add pie charts, line graphs and discrete graphs for more detailed dashboards. For more information on ResearchKit, go here, and for details on how to access the open source framework, go here.

To learn more about existing studies using ResearchKit, go here. ResearchKit studies are available in Austria, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the UK and the US.