Apple helps the Internet of Things “Spring Forward” with ResearchKit

James Mack, M2M One

iPhone, more like IoTPhone am I right? (Ok I’ll stop now…)

Yesterday (09/03/15) Apple held it’s first media event of the new year; “Spring Forward” was heavily focused on Apple’s push into the wearable gadgets space – The Apple Watch. We also got some MacBook and iOS news but the most interesting news from an IoT perspective was the unveiling of ResearchKit a macro IoT information gathering application that works with Apple’s HealthKit.

Unveiled last year HealthKit gives developers opportunities to integrate hardware and application data with Apples Health app, essentially turning the iPhone into a portable mHeatlh hub. HealthKit is already integrated with a number of wearables; connected scales, sleep monitoring devices and even a stationary bike.

When HealthKit was launched last year, I was extremely bullish that it would change the face of the connected health landscape and I still feel the potential is there but aside from some exciting pilots we haven’t seen that “Killer App” yet. We’re still seeing a lot of companies relying on a stand-alone hub or internal modem to transmit data to doctors and medical centers. I’m personally not sure if this is still the preferred method because of development and design cycles or if companies are still dubious about Apple intercepting private health data.

ResearchKit aims to take the micro focus of single patient monitoring and expand it exponentially by allowing the 700+ million iPhones out there in the wild to act as mobile medical research devices.

Having worked with several companies developing connected health devices I can tell you that some of the biggest hurdles involve finding subjects for clinical trials for a number of reasons; time, geography, etc. By having people opt-in with their existing connected devices, medical research centers can get a cross section of users across different, social & environmental subsections.

If it proves successful ResearchKit can seriously disrupt the medical research industry in a way that we’ve never before seen, organizations and charities that focus on research can reduce the overheads associated with organization and accommodation of trials by complementing their existing research methodologies with ResearchKit data, hopefully helping them pick up patterns and valuable data much quicker.

What I like about ResearchKit is how it presents a solid use case for collaboration and sharing of data in the M2M/IoT space. By making their policy completely clear that this is an interactive, opt-in application where Apple has no access to your private health information, Apple make a compelling argument for using their hardware and platform as a hub for all kinds of connected health work.

Right now we’re seeing connected health devices being used either for remote monitoring, response or insurance purposes, all necessary applications. With ResearchKit the dynamic shifts from a maintenance and reactive model to something much more proactive with long-term benefits to not only the patient but everyone suffering from their condition.

In a previous blog I wrote about the lack of a compelling argument for a lot of wearables (Full Post), but if information collected about your lifestyle and health routine could help others without you needing to do anything apart from opt-in wouldn’t you do it?

Author: James Mack, General Manager – M2M One
The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.

Related posts