Apple announces new health research app for Watch owners

Apple Watch users can opt in to share their private health data with the Research app as well as the Apple Health app. Apple promises complete data privacy.

At its annual event last night, Apple unveiled a new Research app for Apple Watch owners that will allow them to privately participate in health studies.

Apple has announced three new studies in heart health, women's health and hearing. Watch users can opt in to share their private data collected by the Research app as well as the Apple Health app.

Apple plans to "democratise how medical research is conducted" by bringing together academic medical institutions, healthcare organisations, and Apple products.

Image: Apple Newsroom

The company explained in a statement,

"Participants will contribute to potential medical discoveries and help create the next generation of innovative health products. The Research app will be available as a free download in the App Store later this year."

Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “We found that we could positively impact medical research in ways that help patients today and that make contributions that will benefit future generations. This carries our commitment to health even further by engaging with participants on a larger scale than ever before.”

Apple also promised that it will respect users’ data privacy, and not access any information that can directly identify the person. "You decide what data you want to share” with the studies, Apple stated.

The company shared a brief outline of the three studies.

Apple Heart and Movement Study

Apple is partnering with various leading hospitals to conduct exhaustive research on how heart rate and mobility signals (like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed, etc. that the Apple Watch can track) are related to hospitalisations, falls, quality of life, and overall cardiovascular health.

Image: Apple Newsroom

Apple Women’s Health Study

Apple has developed a first-of-its-kind long-term study focused on women's menstrual cycles and overall gynaecological health. The study will inform screening and risk assessment of common conditions like PCOS, infertility, pregnancy, menopause, etc.

Apple Hearing Study

Apple wants to examine factors that impact hearing health. This study will collect data over time to understand how everyday sound exposure affects people's hearing abilities. The study data will also be shared with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Research app rolls out in the US later this year.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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