Apple releases new Research app and announces three studies

Apple Heart Research StudyApple on Thursday announced the release of a new Research app for users of the iPhone and Apple Watch. The app enables users to participate in medical research studies similar to the Stanford Apple Watch Heart Study. Apple also announced three studies that will use data from the Research app.

The Research app enables you to view any current research programs, learn about the partners and goals of the program, and enroll – presuming you’re eligible. You choose what data to share and what study to participate in. The Research app builds on the foundation Apple laid out back in 2015 with the launch of ResearchKit, which Stanford researchers used create their landmark 2017 Apple Watch Heart Study. The first three projects announced in conjunction with the Research app include the Apple Women’s Health Study, the Apple Heart and Movement Study, and the Apple Hearing Study.

The Apple Women’s Health Study “aims to advance the understanding of menstrual cycles and their relationship to various health conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis and menopausal transition.” Apple has partnered with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to collect data like menstrual cycle tracking info – a new feature of watchOS 6 – and will use monthly surveys and other data to analyze women’s reproductive health topics.

The Apple Heart and Movement Study is being done in conjunction with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association. Its goal is to study “factors that affect heart health and potentially cause deterioration in mobility or overall well-being, in an effort to promote healthy movement and improved cardiovascular health.” It appears to build on the earlier Stanford study by seeking to “understand how certain mobility signals and details about heart rate and rhythm could serve as potential early warning signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib),” along with developing interventions to help users get healthier.

The Apple Hearing Study will work with the Noise app on the Apple Watch to understand how headphone usage and environmental sound exposure can affect health. It’s being done with the University of Michigan. “Participants will be randomly assigned to two groups within the study to assess if receiving Health app notifications when loud sound exposure is detected can motivate users to modify their listening behaviors,” said Apple. Data will be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Make Listening Safe initiative.