New Interview Offers 'Inside Look' at Potential Origin of ResearchKit

ResearchKit, Apple's new open-source medical framework, was one of the unexpected announcements during the company's Spring Forward media event. Dr. Stephen Friend, one of the key members of the ResearchKit team, talked about the potential genesis of the project in a new interview with Fusion (via iMore).

ResearchKit
In September 2013, nearly one and a half years before ResearchKit was unveiled, Friend was at Stanford's MedX conference giving a talk about the future of medical research. He explained how he envisioned an open source system where users could upload their medical data to the cloud for researchers to use in trials.

Sitting in the audience that day was Michael O'Reilly, M.D., the former Chief Medical Officer and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo Corporation, a pulse oximetry company. O'Reilly had just left Masimo to join Apple, and wanted to build something that could "implement Friend's vision of a patient-centered, medical research utopia and radically change the way clinical studies are done."

After Friend’s talk, O’Reilly approached the doctor, and, in typical tight-lipped Apple fashion, said: “I can’t tell you where I work, and I can’t tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you,” Friend recalls. Friend was intrigued, and agreed to meet for coffee.

Shortly after his meeting with O'Reilly, Friend started making frequent trips to Apple's HQ in Cupertino, meeting with scientists and engineers. He also organized a DARPA-funded workshop exploring how biosensors could potentially help doctors and scientists understand Parkinson's Disease.

Euan Ashley, a Stanford University investigator behind the myHeart app, told Fusion that Apple largely acted as a "facilitator", building the ResearchKit framework in the background as the researchers designed and built the first ResearchKit apps by themselves. However, Apple did go meet with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration three months before the Spring Forward event to talk about medical research and smooth over any potential regulatory concerns.

Friend noted that even though his open-source ideals didn't totally mesh with Apple's view on open source at the time, he wanted to work with them rather than competitors like Google and Microsoft because Apple is a hardware company that doesn't need to sell data, and that he believed Apple when the company said it wouldn't look at the data being used in ResearchKit.

However, both Apple and Friend decided not to make the true origin of ResearchKit clear to Fusion. It's unknown whether the idea was Friend's or if Apple was developing it before Friend joined the team.

Thus far, ResearchKit has been a success for Apple, receiving thousands of sign-ups less than 24 hours after it was unveiled. In that time frame, 11,000 people signed up for one of the ResearchKit apps, myHeart Counts.

The rest of the interview also provides a good look at ResearchKit and can be read at Fusion's website.

Top Rated Comments

peterh988 Avatar
83 months ago
"I can't tell you where I work, and I can't tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you,"

Friend started making frequent trips to Apple's HQ in Cupertino, meeting with scientists and engineers.

Got a mental image of him sitting in the back of a blacked out van with a black hood over his head! :)
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
83 months ago
"I can't tell you where I work, and I can't tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you,"



Got a mental image of him sitting in the back of a blacked out van with a black hood over his head! :)

When I read that line, I did it in Liam Neeson voice as Bryan Mills from Taken.

Liam: "I can't tell you where I work, and I can't tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you."

Doc: "Okaaaay. What's this about?"

Liam: "I'll contact you later,but know this, what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that..."

On topic. This can be a very good thing. Especially if it is truly open source. If it become proprietary it's still a good thing, but less so.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
stanman64 Avatar
83 months ago
in my mac notification center, this popped up as "New Interview Offers 'Inside Look' at Pot"


of course I clicked on it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457282 Avatar
83 months ago
Nothing in this article is worth the usual sarcastic and cynical treatment here. This is a good thing - open source, free (yes somewhat redudant), no data selling, and helpful to mankind.

I say YEAH!!!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
stu.h Avatar
83 months ago
This can only be a positive thing for patients worldwide.

Go Apple!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JeffyTheQuik Avatar
83 months ago
From what was a damn average keynote, looking back, researchkit was a positive, rhat and the MacBook . I hope apple sticks with it
This was a "wow" moment for me. I've been in research studies before, and the telemetry of the studies is horrible. It relies on people (me) remembering where they were, what they did, and what the results were when the data was taken.

This makes it far easier, because it puts the responsibility on the doctor team to think this stuff through, rather than the patient trying to figure stuff out.

Here's how it went for the study I was in:
Test blood sugar
Write it down on this piece of paper.
Write down what you ate
Write down what were doing the 3 hours before/after eating
Turn this in at the next appointment, where it's like a doctor appointment, where you wait an hour before being seen, and being told that you're not doing it right.

Here's how I envision Research Kit:
Blood tester and/or CGM is BT enabled, and communicates with app on iPhone, which feeds to Health app, which ResearchKit app can pull from
Activity is tracked (ran 4 miles is more accurately seen as "ran 6.2 mph for 40 minutes")
Eating is a problem, but give the recipients a scale that tracks what they eat (I have one of these, and it attaches to Health app)
It transmits daily to the research doctors.

I see the errors in translation and input going way down, and relevant information going way up.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Pro Display XDR Yella

Apple Working on External Display With Built-In A13 Chip

Friday July 23, 2021 9:37 am PDT by
Apple is developing an external display that includes an A13 chip with Neural Engine, according to a new rumor from 9to5Mac. The A13 chip with Neural Engine would presumably serve as an eGPU, though details are light at this time. Having a CPU/GPU built into the external display could help Macs deliver high-resolution graphics without using all the resources of the computer's internal chip....
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature

AirPods 3 Rumored to Launch Alongside iPhone 13 at Expected September Event

Friday July 23, 2021 12:54 am PDT by
The third-generation AirPods will likely launch at the same event revealing Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, according to a report from DigiTimes, which makes the claim citing sources familiar with the matter. The report as a whole echoes previous reporting that production of the third-generation AirPods will kickstart in August, meaning a launch shortly after can be easily expected. DigiTi...
discount m1 macbook yellow

Deals: Shop Record Low Prices Across Apple's Full MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Lineup (Up to $499 Off)

Friday July 23, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineup is seeing all-time low discounts across the board today, including the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2020 13-inch MacBook Air, and 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. 13-Inch M1...
iPad mini pro feature

Next iPad Mini Won't Feature Mini-LED Display, Claims Display Analyst

Friday July 23, 2021 8:07 am PDT by
Yesterday, DigiTimes claimed that the upcoming iPad mini will feature a mini-LED display, but now, display analyst Ross Young is going at odds with that report, claiming that while the updated iPad mini continues to be on track for a release this year, it won't feature a mini-LED display. Young says he "confirmed" with Radiant Opto-Electronics, who DigiTimes claims would provide Apple with...
idos 2 app ios

Apple to Pull 'iDOS 2' DOS Emulator From App Store

Thursday July 22, 2021 3:22 pm PDT by
iDOS 2, an app designed to allow users to play classic DOS games, will soon be pulled from the App Store, the app's creator said today. According to iDOS developer Chaoji Li, he tried to submit an iDOS update with bug fixes to the App Store, but was told that the update was rejected because it violated the 2.5.2 App Store guideline that says apps cannot install or launch executable code.Durin...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
iphone12cameras

iPhone Helps to Identify Rare Form of Cancer

Friday July 23, 2021 4:00 am PDT by
A photo taken on an iPhone has helped to identify a rare form of cancer, according to news reports. A mother of three from Gainesville, Florida took a photo of her three-month-old son using her iPhone and its True Tone flash, which highlighted an abnormality in his right eye. The boy's mother, a labor and delivery nurse, recalled learning about retinoblastoma during her training....
iphone 13 blue with text

iPhone 13 May Support 25W Fast Charge Power Adapter

Friday July 23, 2021 2:52 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 may support faster-charging speeds with a 25W power adapter, compared to the current limitation of the iPhone 12, which only supports fast charging at up to 20W, according to a rumor originating from China. The iPhone 12 supports fast charging with a 20W or higher power adapter; however, even if users use a more powerful wall adapter, the iPhone itself only supports up to 20W....
iPad mini pro feature

Next-Generation iPad Mini Will Reportedly Feature a Mini-LED Display

Thursday July 22, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple is widely rumored to be planning a new iPad mini with a significant redesign, including a larger 8.5-inch to 9-inch display with slimmer bezels, a Touch ID power button instead of a home button, a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector, and more. According to a paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today, the sixth-generation iPad mini will also feature a mini-LED display:BLU...
magsafe battery pack iphone 12 mini

Top Stories: Hands-On With MagSafe Battery Pack, iPhone 13 Always-On Display?

Saturday July 24, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack is now available, and we went hands-on this week for some early impressions of the new accessory to get more battery life out of Apple's iPhone 12 lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. This week also saw a number of rumors about the upcoming redesigned MacBook Pro models, the iPhone 13 lineup, the next-generation iPad mini, a new...