Apple expands ResearchKit tracking to autism, epilepsy and melanoma

15 Oct 2015

Apple is expanding the remit of its ResearchKit programme having agreed three new partnerships with universities to gather more data on autism, epilepsy and melanoma studies.

Apple’s ResearchKit was launched back in March this year as a means of connecting the millions of owners of Apple devices with medical researchers who are crying out for more valuable data to help them determine treatments for some of the most common ailments.

In fact, just two days after it launched, thousands of Apple device owners signed up for ResearchKit with 11,000 signing up for a heart study alone.

Now, according to TechCrunch, the expansion of the data remit will help Duke University in the US work on its ongoing autism study by asking iPhone users to use an emotion-detecting algorithm in their front-facing camera to analyse a child’s reaction to a video.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University will look to use their EpiWatch app with the Apple Watch’s accelerometer.

In doing so, it will be able to measure the onset of seizures in the patient and send an alert to a next of kin.

By measuring a large data set of epilepsy suffers, they will be able to more accurately pinpoint triggers in the disease.

In terms of melanoma, the Oregon Health & Science University will ask those taking part in its studies using ResearchKit to take photos of their mole growths with the aim of creating a detection algorithm for a person’s skin using these images.

Apple has said that there are a number of other potential studies in the works that could be added to ResearchKit, including hearing loss as well as reaction time to a stimulus and walking and memory tests.

iPhone and Apple Watch image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic