Apple's Research Kit Makes it Easier for the Scientists to Study Subjects

17 March 2015

Birmingham: Recently, Apple has launched the research kit software which turns an iPhone into a diagnostic tool allowing the users to draw the medical data from millions of potential customers. This kit looks like a boon for number of researchers, but it has been a head ache for the privacy advocates. With the permission of users, Apple will be able to exploit the data from its health application and also share it with the doctors and scientists to use it in the medical research. This data could include the user’s blood pressure, body weight and also the information on conditions like asthma, breast cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Apple’s offering to medical research

With millions of iPhones being used in the world, Apple used it to the best to make a greater impact by empowering people to participate in a medical research and contribute something to it. The research kit comprises health tracking tools like Fitbit wrist wear which generates the heaps of data on people’s health and activity levels. But while the researchers are enthusiastic on having access to such information, privacy advocates are worried that the data could be tied to the individual users.

As the technology is evolving continuously, the capability of iPhone to capture its customers’ activity has reached to such an extent that it keeps the count of number of steps taken per day. The scientists will also be able to access the microphone, accelerometer, GPS sensors and gyroscope. Using some devices developed by other enterprises, iPhone will also be able to collect the information such as glucose levels and the use of asthma inhaler. People don’t understand that the health data they share with a device or an application might be used in some other ways that they had not intended.

The research kit is an open source

Usually the data shared with an application or a device will not be secured by federal medical privacy laws. They can be shared, sold and can also be stored in several ways. Sometimes it may also fall into the hands of hackers. More the data you have online, more likely you would be a part of a breach; also that data could be iniquitous. So Apple took a step ahead to assure the security of patient data by making the research kit an open source.    

As it is an open source, the users can report if there are any bugs in the software and get them fixed easily. With all the issues discussed on how the Apple’s products collect and use the health data, the company is showing a sort of commitment to keep the consumer data secured. The main appeal of this research kit to the researchers is to recruit people for large scale studies and the system lets users complete the tasks easily.

So nowadays the study subjects are recruited through patient groups or local clinics. The research kit is capable of accessing all the data and it can definitely help in speeding up the research. So, many major medical institutions have already built research kit apps for specific diseases like asthma and cardiovascular health.

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