This morning I woke up early (4am) to sit and watch Apple’s latest keynote. For me, it was the keynote, which proves something I have been saying something for a while now: Apple is a company which is going to change the world.
Whilst the new MacBook was stunning and a feat of engineering (also…like the original MacBook Air…ahead of its time) and I’ve already begun saving for the new Apple Watch (Stainless Steel, Black, 42mm….can’t wait) it was the announcement of ResearchKit which simply blew me away. It was ResearchKit, which is going to have the biggest impact on the world.
Apple made the announcement that there are now more than 700 million iPhones across the world. That means that there are hundreds of millions of people, many of them with a variety of diseases which have plagued humanity, who have a device in their pocket which can easily connect them to a doctor, medical facility or university. Apple got together with a host of universities and hospitals to help develop this framework for researchers to create applications for their specific fields.
Currently, there are five apps available to help monitor and study the various impacts of diseases. These apps are aimed at understanding more about Parkinson’s, Breast Cancer, Asthma, Diabetes and Heart Disease. With the flip of a switch Apple has unveiled a way for the hundreds of millions of sufferers of these diseases throughout the world to connect with the doctors who are studying how best to combat their illnesses.
Before today in order to get an understanding of diseases you had to sign up for a medical study, be present for that study (which meant being in the same city) and take up your valuable time participating in the study. Now you can contribute to these studies by simply turning on your phone, talking into your iPhone, walking or tapping the screen repeatedly. This is all sent off to the medical researcher and increases the statistics of the study. This is nothing but a win-win. It gives the researchers not only a huge number of subjects who suffer from these illnesses but opens them up to a range of possibilities. If they are able to see why a sufferer of Parkinson’s from China has a stronger (or weaker) reaction to a test than a sufferer from Great Britain then they are able to isolate a range of differing factors including diet and daily activity. It’s variables like this which lead to discoveries we never may have thought of. ResearchKit gives doctors access to numbers, data and statistics….things that they crave when trying to understand the nature of these diseases.
But ResearchKit is also a huge step towards a new Apple. Under Steve Jobs Apple was simply a technology company on the verge of being something more. Under Tim Cook it has truly begun its metamorphosis. With HomeKit, CarPlay and HealthKit Apple has begun to expand from being a technology company into a lifestyle company. It’s a company which says that the best way to improve your life is with technology. Apple has always had an attitude which screams arrogance. Their price points, their slogans, their cavalier approach to customisation. They’ve always maintained that the ‘walled garden’ is about giving their customers a better experience. This has riled many people turning them away from the company and into the arms of Android or Samsung. However, for others all they want is to be able to turn on their phone, connect to their AppleTV, share files with AirDrop and watch movies with AirPlay. They crave the walled garden because in the small slice of heaven that Apple has given them there are few things that can go wrong.
Apple’s evolution into this new lifestyle company will have untold benefits for the users of Apple products. Opening the door of their AppleHouse, driving in their AppleCar, buying shopping with ApplePay….all present a seamless and joyful experience to those who want it. But with ResearchKit they’ve done something that will truly benefit all of humanity. With ResearchKit they’re going to save countless lives and give us an understanding of diseases and illnesses, which have plagued our society for generations. We don’t know how we’re going to solve all of these diseases. But this morning Apple helped us get closer to a cure.