With a press release this morning, Apple announced new ResearchKit studies for autism, epilepsy, and melanoma:
Autism: Duke University and Duke Medicine are launching “Autism & Beyond” for parents with concerns about autism and other developmental issues. The Duke research team is looking at whether the front-facing camera on an iPhone can be used to detect signs of developmental issues at a much younger age. The app uses novel emotion detection algorithms to measure a child’s reaction to videos shown on iPhone. Duke is partnering with Peking University in China and other international partners to conduct the study.
Epilepsy: The EpiWatch app developed by Johns Hopkins is the first study of its kind to be conducted with Apple Watch using ResearchKit. The study will test whether the wearable sensors included in Apple Watch can be used to detect the onset and duration of seizures. During the first phase of this study, researchers will use a custom complication on the Apple Watch to provide patients with one-touch access to trigger the custom watch app to capture accelerometer and heart rate sensor data to capture the digital signature of their seizure and send an alert to a loved one. The app will keep a log of all seizures and the participant’s responsiveness during the event. The app also helps participants manage their disorder by tracking their medication adherence and by screening for side effects, while allowing participants to compare their condition with others in the research study.
Melanoma: Oregon Health & Science University is studying whether digital images taken on an iPhone can be used to learn about mole growth and melanoma risks and could help people better manage skin health by photographing and measuring mole size over time. Research participants will be able to document mole changes and share them directly with health professionals, and researchers will be able to capture images from tens of thousands of iPhone users around the globe to help create detection algorithms which can be used in future studies to potentially screen for melanoma.
ResearchKit continues to be one of Apple’s most important initiatives, and it’s great to see the sensors of Apple Watch are being used as well. According to Apple, more than 50 researchers have contributed active tasks in 6 months and more than 100,000 participants are contributing data to ResearchKit.