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What if we applied Apple ResearchKit thinking to, well, everything?


What if we applied Apple ResearchKit thinking to, well, everything?

Apple announced some killer new software today. You might have thought it was Google unveiling this kind of stuff but the mega-company from Cupertino valued at ~$700 billion has a trick or two up its sleeve.

The biggest trick is not any hardware, though. It’s not even the major news about HBO offering an a la carte option, signaling the future of television as we know it. Quickly though, get ready to pay for only the channels you want. You’ll pay more than you expect, though.


No, the future I’m interested in is the one that involves Apple ResearchKit. It’s basically a way to leverage the big data being created by the hundreds of millions of iPhone users around the world. Anyone can now download an app to monitor their disease or – surprisingly enough – see how others are doing. It’s a bit better than searching WebMD to see if you have symptoms, too.

“iOS apps already help millions of customers track and improve their health. With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”

The future is bright for healthcare and fitness in general thanks to private companies like Apple tackling big problems because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of money to make by being a big player in healthcare, there is also new Private Medical Insurance options for everyone. You don’t see a lot of ‘mom and pop’ health insurance companies, do you?

Let’s talk about Crowd Collection

Anyway, what interests me about ResearchKit is that it’s ushered in a new style of tackling enormous problems. Forget crowdfunding or crowdsourcing, this new approach could be called ‘crowdcollection’ where massive stores of data are analyzed and extrapolated thanks to huge computing power now in the cloud. It would unlock the ability to apply big data approaches to issues like education, politics, etc. Here are a few industries that could be shaken up by taking a ResearchKit approach:


Let’s harness the power of smart devices to gauge how engaged students are, how often they come to class, how fast they learn things, how standardized testing is working, how to more effectively teach lessons, etc.


Let’s do ad hoc polling using smart devices, better understand what the constituents are thinking, doing, and talking about. The limits here are few and could lead to big steps forward.


Before you laugh, hear me out. Let’s actually monitor how apps are being used and help developers better understand what’s working and what’s not. What if your phone could automatically tell a developer that you didn’t like a feature because you hid it or disabled it and never looked at it again? What if that feature took up hours, days, or months of work from the developer who could’ve spent his or her time better?


How about we crowd collect a bunch of data using the Internet of Things? For example, let’s use our Nest thermostats and smoke alarms to share data about how the temperature affects how much television we watch. Or let’s use our smartphones to measure how lazy we are when barometric pressure fluctuates. You get the idea. We could save a ton of energy by measuring basic life movements.

What’s Next?

Get ready for the Internet of Things (IoT) and more connectivity and learning. Hopefully we could apply the ResearchKit style of thinking to other industries and startups will take note.

I love to cover interesting technology, tools, and trends we'll be using in the future!


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