What is Apple’s ResearchKit?

November 18, 2015

ResearchKit is an open source software framework created by Apple to help researchers and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using an iPhone.

ResearchKit allows researchers and developers to create medical apps that leverage iPhone capabilities– like powerful processors; and advanced sensors that can track movement, take measurements, and record information– to gather research data that is accurate, objective, and precise, and to provide insights and feedback to the study’s participants.

What’s more, ResearchKit streamlines the recruiting and consenting process and makes it easy for people to sign up for a study, no matter where they live in the world (though must be within approved study regions).

This makes it easy to recruit participants for large-scale studies and multiplies access to viable research participants. Enabling access to participants that the researcher would otherwise not have access to may ultimately result in a much larger and more diverse study groups that will help the statistical significance of the study data. If your research requires greater focus, you can also define eligibility requirements to qualify participants.

Apple understands the importance of privacy and security within medical research, and ResearchKit has been designed with that mind. Collected data is securely stored and transmitted from the iPhone and all data is de-identified in backend servers.

ResearchKit enables researchers and participants to share their data with other medical studies. Consequently, your data has the ability to significantly impact entirely separate ResearchKit studies and vice versa. Consider the power of having access to enormous amounts of data from previous research studies, and being able to combine data sets that had previously been isolated, or inaccessible.

Some of the world’s leading research institutions have already developed pioneering apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease – but this is just the beginning of a big paradigm shift that will undoubtedly change the way we think of clinical research trials, and ultimately, provide better healthcare solutions for us all.


By converting the medical research process into a digital experience, thousands of people from all over the world are now able to contribute to medical research.

For example, since its launch on March 9th, 2015, the Asthma Health study enrolled over 60,000 participants and the Cardiovascular Disease app has acquired upwards of 55,000 participants. Although these studies are currently only administered in the United States, they will soon expand to include international participants.

With such high engagement and enrollment numbers, ResearchKit apps have already offered valuable insights to medical researchers and have empowered ordinary people to make valuable contributions to ongoing medical research.

Looking to build a ResearchKit App? Learn more about Y Media Labs ResearchKit App Program.

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