Apple has announced the development of a "new open source software framework" for the iPhone, which it says will transform medical studies in so many profound ways.
Dubbed ResearchKit, this latest development from the tech giant is designed to assist doctors and scientists. Using data obtained from iPhone users, it will help to reshape understanding and thinking in ways that cannot yet be comprehended.
Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations at Apple said that health-related apps already available from the company's App Store are having a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide.
"With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research," he continued.
"ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before."
In effect, your iPhone becomes a medical tool. First thing to note is that permission from the user is needed before specialists can access and then make sense of data. In turn, they can use this information to help them in their studies.
Another advantage of ResearchKit is the ability for organisations to source participants for large-scale studies and to do so across wide demographics. This provides them with a solid, more reliable and reflective sample of the global population.
"We’re excited to use these new ResearchKit tools from Apple to expand participant recruitment and quickly gather even more data through the simple use of an iPhone app," said Patricia Ganz, professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
"The data it will provide takes us one step closer to developing more personalised care. Access to more diverse patient-reported health data will help us learn more about long-term after-effects of cancer treatments and provide us with a better understanding of the breast cancer patient experience."
This is another example of how companies like Apple are using technology to revolutionise the way we do things, across all types of industries and sectors. One of the things ResearchKit highlights is just how far smartphones have come.
The devices, when they first emerged, were, of course, very powerful, but not as sophisticated as they are today (of course, that comes with time). Today, well, there is no limit to what they can do … you really do have untold power in the back of pocket.
Take the iPhone as a case in point. It comes with, as standard, robust processors and tactile sensors. The latter can, for example, take measurements, track your movement and record loads of useful information.
"When it comes to researching how we can better diagnose and prevent disease, numbers are everything," said Eric Schadt, professor of genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
"By using Apple’s new ResearchKit framework, we’re able to extend participation beyond our local community and capture significantly more data to help us understand how asthma works.
"Using iPhone’s advanced sensors, we’re able to better model an asthma patient’s condition to enable us to deliver a more personalised, more precise treatment."