The tech giants are investing more and more in the field of health and medical research. After buying Fitbit, Google is now working on a search engine for patients. It is today Apple who embarks on a particularly ambitious project, and hopes to revolutionize the medicine with three studies realized thanks to the data collected by the Apple Watch and the iPhone.
What will the studies be about?
The first research, named Apple's Women's Health Study, focuses on women's health, and will be conducted in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Institute of Health. Through surveys that participants can answer directly from the Research app, the study seeks to better understand how women's bodies and reproductive cycles change over time. In addition, they may choose to share certain data collected by their Apple device directly, such as their heart rate or physical activity to supplement our knowledge of women's health.
The second study, the Apple Earing Study, will focus on the impact of noise pollution in the long term. "There is a sound meter on the Apple Watch, if we can help people understand how noise exposure in their environment affects them, or at least mitigate the problem of hearing loss, it's is a major contribution to the company, "said Jeff Williams, director of operations at Apple, at New York Times. This research is done in contribution with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of Michigan.
Finally, the latest study, called the Apple Heart and Movement Study, is conducted in partnership with the American Heart Association and Brigham and Women's Hospital, located in Boston. Among other things, it will analyze data on physical activity and heart rate in order to identify more effectively the signs of heart disease or disorders.
In order to participate in one of these studies, owners of Apple products must download the Research application and consent to their data being used, an important argument for the Apple brand, following the recent controversy observed by the competitor. Google. In addition, participants will be able to register with a nickname to preserve their anonymity.
This method will greatly simplify the way we carry out large-scale studies. Volunteers usually have to go to health centers, but here they just have to use their smartphone or watch, which is a convincing argument to encourage more people to participate. A striking example, Apple has managed to enroll no less than 400,000 participants for a study on the impact of smart watches by Stanford University. To achieve this, the Cupertino company simply promoted the search on its App Store and via e-mail.
Health or marketing?
Some reservations, however, have been made about the effectiveness of these studies. As the New York Timespeople who own an iPhone generally have a higher income than Android users. In fact, a previous study by the brand, the Apple Heart Study, had fewer African-American, Latin American or over-65 participants. Such a lack of diversity can skew the results of a study for a certain part of the population.
Finally, without questioning Apple's willingness to contribute to the advancement of medicine, it is doubtful that a marketing issue is hiding behind this new project. For example, the data collected will allow it to improve its products or to imagine new ones, by highlighting the "health" aspect of its devices … A new way to put a little more its imprint on the company.