ResearchKit won’t show up on your Apple device, but it’s already proving crucial to developers interested in solving medical issues using iOS; Apple’s research software framework expands upon its HealthKit API and gives medical teams the opportunity to create apps that can diagnose specific diseases and track health problems. ResearchKit also makes it easier for doctors and scientists to recruit volunteers for large-scale studies, because it overcomes the inherent limitations that come with doling out expensive and complex medical technology to participants.
In a study being conducted at John Hopkins University, for example, one research team is looking at whether the Apple Watch’s sensors can detect the onset and duration of epileptic seizures, triggering an alert that’s sent to a loved one whenever a seizure occurs. The EpiWatch app (hopkinsmedicine.org/epiwatch) uses custom WatchOS code to capture accelerometer and heart rate sensor data to record a seizure’s digital signature, which is logged along with the participant’s responsiveness for the event’s duration. The aim is for sufferers of the condition to be able to manage their disorder by tracking their medication adherence, and screening for side effects.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other ResearchKit-based apps include Share The Journey, for self-diagnosing breast cancer (sharethejourneyapp.org), Asthma Health (lifemap-solutions.com) and cardiovascular tracker MyHeart Counts (http://bit.ly/myheartcounts).