A new level of respect for Apple

Like most people who attended Apple’s event on Monday, I was waiting for news of the Apple Watch, but I was distracted early on by another, incredibly important announcement: ResearchKit.

ResearchKit is a software framework that allows doctors and researchers to gather data more frequently and accurately than ever before. It’s a way for those people to help find the causes and cures for the diseases that haunt humanity.

As I sat listening to Jeff Williams talk about ResearchKit, I thought to myself, this is why I love Apple—they care. They don’t just talk the talk and put out press releases about massive donations they make to charities, they are actually making a difference and putting the power of the most successful company in the world behind what they say.

There are world-class institutes that have already made apps for researching asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. This isn’t a pipe dream that we hope will happen someday, it’s happening right now.

To make sure everyone can benefit from ResearchKit, Apple is making the software open source.

During the presentation today, one of the researchers said they sent out 60,000 letters, which led to about 300 people participating in their research study. With the iPhone, there are potentially millions of people that can participate in research in near real-time. The amount of data that doctors can collect and analyze will be staggering. For the first time, we may understand the cause and cures of diseases so much better than we ever have before.

Apple is a products and services company. They are a very rich company. They have proven today that they care about more than just profits—Bravo.

  • Paul Chernoff

    I am excited about ResearchKit and that they put it on the board cast, as opposed to just a PR release which most people would ignore. I am sure that an collecting data through a mobile device will help some types of research and allow for subjects to be recorded in a normal (for them) environment. But I am not sure how it will affect the rate of participation. In many studies the researchers screen people for eligibility to help control variables. Can anyone involved with medical research comment on this issue, especially if I am mistaken?

    • Walt French

      I haven’t been involved w health-related research in a LONG time.

      But researchers can EASILY ignore data that doesn’t fit their criteria, while allowing a spirit of participation and community self-help to propagate.

      • SteveC

        so we should all quit and go home?

        • Walt French

          Maybe, before you go, you’ll translate your question to something I can understand.

  • SteveC

    This part of the presentation was the least expected and the most satisfying to me. Taking the laptop one more significant iteration – great but partly expected and partly just SOP. The watch was the lead but to give Jeff Williams so much air time with such a valuable audience was on no radar that I am aware of. Jeff seemed truly passionate about the initiative. Good On Apple!!

    • rogifan

      I could see Jeff as future Apple CEO. He was great on stage too.

  • Don’t you think, this will be a little bit more dramatic when so many people collect health data? I mean, this is good, no doubt, but collecting more and more and more makes us, the people, so vulnerable.

    We have to look how this data is used and how secure the datacenters of the collecting companoyes are.

    • Walt French

      Perhaps you would do just that, since you claim to care & think it’s important.

      I didn’t see “companies” so much as I saw institutions whose primary mission is to advance our understanding of health issues. The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which was on one of the slides, is pretty open about their funding, objectives, etc.

      Pretty sure you’ll find a high level of interest if some scummy or slimy outfit tries to entice people to give up their info in a way that’d harm the volunteers; most news organizations would kill for a good story that way. But you might well imagine that regulations such as HIPAA will impose a pretty heavy cost on any sleaze balls, too… those fines are real, and they’re potentially huge.

      Or maybe you haven’t really considered the question nearly as much as Apple and other involved parties have.

    • mark

      ..and what kind of data is it? If the data generated by my 20 steps is posted to github, do I really care? Is that personally identifying (other than being generated by my legs)?

      we’re not necessarily taking about anything sensitive here.. I suppose one might be able to determine that I have the symptoms suggesting Parkinson’s, but I don’t consider that sensitive the same way I consider my credit card number, SSN, or address.

    • I’m sure Apple will update their privacy white paper if they haven’t yet.

  • Arsby

    I was wondering if I was the only one who sat up during that announcement. Bravo, indeed. I’m a Parkinson’s patient and the lack of information my neurologist can give me has been one of the more frustrating parts of this process.

    • lucascott

      One day and hopefully soon this will grow into a fuller set up where all patients, not just research ones, can record vital info IRL and take it to the doctors office to be imported into medical records. Many of these research conditions could benefit from better patient info.,like asthma, diabetes etc.

  • Baron Chandler

    Research Kit was the number one thing at this show for me. Hands down. It was good to get Macbook back, but it was all about ResearchKit today.

  • ResearchKit was definitely the biggest news Apple released today. Long term, it’ll mean a hell of a lot more than Apple Watch pricing or the release date.

    Products like that make me proud to be in tech, and I don’t even work for Apple. 🙂

  • John W Baxter

    As a 75 year old (geezer) I perked up with the Research Kit announcement. It might drive me back to iPhone from Windows phone.

  • The Diabetes app appears to be for Type 2 Diabetes only. As a Type 1, I don’t count. =( Trying not to be bitter about it, but Type 1 seems to always get ignored so much…

    • StruckPaper

      Chill. This is just the beginning.

    • Apple has gotta start somewhere.

  • StruckPaper

    Kudos indeed to Apple. But they are not the only company doing this. It would be less Apple fanboyish to acknowledge others too. For example, who’s doing more than Bill Gates when it comes medical research and third world development? Not everything begins and ends with Apple.

    • mark

      Not everything begins and ends with Apple.

      except this was an APPLE event at Yerba Buena. Call me when Bill has his.

    • wtf – this is an apple article on an apple site about an apple initiative. has nothing to do with malaria work by the gates foundation. at all.

    • Peter Hewson

      The Bill and Melinda (don’t forget about her) Foundation publishes a letter every year describing what they’ve done and hope to do. It’s not unusual to see him, Bill Gates, on Late Night promoting it. Not everything begins and ends with Apple, but one thing always does: an Apple Event. If this confounds you, well then I don’t know what to tell you.

    • How does what Bill and Melinda Gates do have anything to do with this? Yes, it’s wonderful work, but it’s totally unrelated.

  • the Ugly Truth

    as if on cue…Samsung today released ReseachIT….

  • Stompy

    I’m sure that for some people (not me), ResearchKit still isn’t “changing the world.” — Remember that recent blog post?

  • HowmaNoid

    Research studies are incredibly expensive. If this framework cuts those costs significantly, researchers will be able to perform more science and accelerate results. Now if only it could help me with marketing focus groups……. 😉