Apple launches ResearchKit, sees medical research uses for iPhone

Apple is open sourcing Research Kit in a bid to turn the iPhone into a medical research tool.

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Apple on Monday rolled out a developer tool called ResearchKit that aims to broaden medical research, encourage participation, and turn iPhones into a front end to battle diseases. To broaden its reach Apple is also open-sourcing the code.

CEO Tim Cook outlined ResearchKit and executives noted that you decide how the data is used and whether you'll participate in clinical studies. In the broader picture, Apple's move highlights how the company is pushing the iPhone as a tool to be used for medical research, payments and other uses.

Among the key points:

  • Apple will launch five health apps today.
  • ResearchKit will be launched next month and open-sourced.
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, UCLA School of Public Health, Penn Medicine and Sage Bionetworks are working on a breast cancer app to provide information.
  • The Asthma Health app gives users insight to asthma, adhere to treatment plans and avoid triggers. Mount Sinai developed the Asthma App with LifeMap Solutions.
  • Glucose level and Parkinson's tests will be available. Some testing gear will be enabled by Bluetooth.

In a nutshell, ResearchKit is a software framework that turns the iPhone into a diagnostic tool. The company has partnered with everyone from Stanford to Penn to the Michael J Fox Foundation and a bevy of others.

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"The iPhone continues to change so many things in our lives," said Cook. "I'm confident ResearchKit will transform medical research."

Update: Clarified and corrected the Asthma Health app use cases and developers.

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