Apple announced a new technology during the company’s “Spring Forward” event that will expand its HealthKit framework to aid in medical research. ResearchKit will allow users who wish to participate in research studies to opt into an app or service that will automatically collect medical data from their iPhone and securely and privately submit it to researchers.
Apple has already partnered with universities and hospitals to help build apps that will allow them to further the study of conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and breast cancer. Apple COO Jeff Williams emphasized that the service will be entirely opt-in, demonstrating how users would have to sign up for research studies — in some cases even with an on-screen signature to indicate consent — and how all data would be submitted directly to researchers securely and privately, and that such data is not even available to Apple.
Williams also noted that as it is Apple’s goal to make this platform and data available as widely as possible, ResearchKit is being released as open source. Five initial partner apps will be available for download today, and ResearchKit will debut next month.