Apple Inc. in September announced plans to initiate research application that allows US consumers participate in health studies on their Apple devices. Today, this app is available for both iPhone and Apple Watch to customers in the U.S. From the new app, Apple Research, users can choose to participate in three health studies, including a women’s health study, an auditory study, cardiac and motion study.
Apple has collaborated with researchers and health institutions in previous studies, but this requires participants to install a custom app on their iOS device for each study alone. Instead, the new Research app provides a place for this calendar activity and makes it easier for people who want to join multiple studies at once.
Data collected from Apple devices (and its many sensors) gives researchers the ability to conduct large-scale health studies in a way that was not possible. Before, these types of studies were expensive and time-consuming, Apple says, but now users can choose to share health-related information directly with researchers – such as signals from the heart, level of activity, activity, and exposure.
Apple’s privacy promises will also appear here, putting data sharing under the control of users, making data encryption commitments, not selling, and studies should teach users how their data will support research. Participants can also withdraw at any time.
One of the first three studies is Women’s Health in partnership with the Harvard Tea Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. It aims to enhance the understanding of women’s menstrual cycles and their relationship to infertility, osteoporosis, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This will collect user cycle tracking records from the Health app on your iPhone or the Cycle Tracking app on your Apple Watch.
Another study of heart and movement in partnership with the American Heart Association and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will use Apple Watch data collected during workouts, as well as heart rate and activity data, along with short surveys. This data will be used to understand how certain movement signals and details about heart rate and rhythm can serve as possible early warning signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), heart disease or decreased mobility, among other things.
The Hearing Study from the University of Michigan and the World Health Organization (WHO) collects data on users’ audio exposure from the iPhone and Noise app on Apple Watch, along with surveys and hearing tests. The study will also test whether Health App notifications encourage users to modify their listening behavior when loud sounds are detected.
“Today is an important moment as we embark on research initiatives that may provide incredible education in areas that the medical community has long sought,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief executive, in a statement on the launch. “Research participants have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact that can lead to new discoveries and help millions lead healthier lives.”
The research app is now rolling out to iPhone and Apple Watch in the US.