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Apple launches app to gather health data

By Charlotte Ricca

iPhone and Apple Watch users will be able to share their health data for research studies

has launched a research app that will help make “groundbreaking medical discoveries” and build new health products.

Users of the iPhone and Apple Watch can download the “Research app” and take part in three health studies: the Apple Women’s Health Study, the Apple Heart and Movement Study, and the Apple Hearing Study.

Data will be collected around participants’ movement, heart rate and noise levels, which are captured during everyday activities, from walking to listening to music.

“Today marks an important moment as we embark on research initiatives that may offer incredible learnings in areas long sought after by the medical community,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

“Participants on the Research app have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact that could lead to new discoveries and help millions lead healthier lives.”

It is also hoped the data gathered will help Apple create the “next generation of innovative health products.”

Apple is one of a few tech giants trying to break into the highly lucrative healthcare market. However, these companies are coming under increasing scrutiny for the way they use health data. The US government is currently investigating a massive project between Google and Ascension, which involved sharing patient’s health data.

Apple is hoping to differentiate itself from its competitors, as the Research app only shares data with the chosen studies when the user approves it. No data will be sold to third parties and participants can withdraw at any time.

A statement from Apple said: “As one of its core values, Apple believes that privacy is a fundamental human right. Therefore privacy is built into all products and services from the beginning.”

The Research app joins Apple’s line-up of healthcare products and services including ResearchKit and HealthKit.

The three new research projects are in partnership with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the World Health Organisation and the University of Michigan.

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