google apple medical research

24.03.2015

Apple and Google to change medical research with smartphones

Imagen | Kamboopics

Google and Apple seem to have come to an agreement to make their first steps into a new and promising sector: conducting health research through mobile devices. While Google announced the launch of its Baseline Study project last summer, Apple waited a bit longer to break its news. At an event held in San Francisco at the beginning of this month, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced its new platform ResearchKit that will start operating in April.

Both initiatives share the same goal: using data gathered from sensors installed in wearables and smart phones to conduct medical studies and clinical trials. Currently, it isn’t easy for experts to monitor a large number of people; all checkups and analyses must be conducted at medical centers, where equipment is also limited. In addition to saving time and reducing workload, with mobile technology, data can be collected continuously to obtain better results than scheduled medical visits.

Despite the common goal, the two companies differ in their approach to reaching it. The new research tool from Apple is directly connected to the HealthKit platform that collects health data for apps and developers to access. That means scientists also have the possibility of using the information for their studies and creating their own apps.

glocosuccess

Imagen | GlucoSuccess

Although ResearchKit is still not open to everyone, some medical institutions have begun using it. The University of Rochester and the company Bionetworks are working together to develop the app mPower that detects certain symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s. The Massachusetts Hospital uses the tool GlucoSuccess to study diabetes. At the same time, Oxford and Stanford University want to use their app MyHeart Counts in researching cardiovascular disease.

The purpose of Apple’s platform is to provide as much data as possible, even though it is oftentimes unreliable. We must also remember that not everyone knows how to use a smartphone correctly, nor its features. However, its strategy is based on quantity, rather than quality, and here lies the main difference compared to Google’s solution.

apple google medical research

Imagen | Kaboompics.com

Google Baseline Study aims to conduct extensive research on health parameters related to different illnesses, but among a smaller sample (its objective is to start with 175 people). It aims to collect valid data, which is why it has sought collaboration with experts from Stanford and Duke universities, who will analyze the data to verify its viability.

The two projects could even complement one another. Apple seeks information from both healthy and ill people, just like Google, in order to find the differences that make some people more susceptible to certain diseases. Surely the two tech giants have no plan to collaborate, but on the other hand, there’s no need to compete in an area that is yet to be explored.