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Are you one of the millions with an Apple smartphone and watch?  Do you monitor your health with the watch?  If yes, you can now contribute to researchers investigating health related problems and participate in groundbreaking research to save lives.

iPhone and Apple Watch users are being asked to enroll in three health studies that will share data with researchers about their movement, heart rate, and the noise levels they are experiencing.


Smartphone and smartwatches now gather large amounts of data that could be very useful to researchers studying various conditions.  Apple’s new Research app provides the framework for that data to be used in such projects.

Apple said the Research App, which is how users can sign up for the studies, includes detailed consent that explains how data will be used and allows a user to control the type of data shared with each of the three studies.

  • The Women’s Health Study aims to improve understanding of menstrual cycles and how they relate to women’s health.  It seeks to advance knowledge about menstrual cycles and their relationship to various health conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility, osteoporosis, and menopausal transition.  The study will use iPhone and Apple Watch to collect study-specific data like cycle tracking information, and use monthly surveys to understand each participant’s menstrual experience and to analyze the impact of certain behaviors and habits on a range of reproductive health topics.
  • The Heart and Movement Study wants to look at the factors that affect heart health and potentially cause deterioration in mobility or overall well-being.  Users can participate by using the Research app on their iPhone and recording workouts on their Apple Watch Series 1 or later.  The researchers want to understand how certain movements and details about heart rate and rhythm could serve as potential early warning signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), heart disease, or declining mobility.
  • The Hearing Study will collect headphone usage and environmental sound exposure data through iPhone and the Noise app on Apple Watch, to explore how both can impact hearing over time.  It will also attempt to measure how long-term sound exposure can affect stress levels and cardiovascular health.  Participants will be randomly assigned to two groups in the study to assess if receiving Health app notifications when loud sound exposure is detected can motivate users to modify their listening behaviors.


Apple has worked on health-related projects like this before with its ResearchKit, which allowed scientists and medical researchers to build apps that can use data from willing iPhone users.

So, how cool is all of this news.  I love it.  You can contribute towards the betterment of society and not really do anything.  Sure, some studies might needs answers to survey questions, but those are often just 5-10 minutes efforts, so not really much of an intrusion into your life.  The Internet of Things sensors in your iPhone and Watch do the real work and harvest data that is critical, fundamental, and insightful for this sort of research.  Normally sample sizes for research data is limited, yet statistically valued, so now with massive crowdsourcing, Apple can provide larges scale big data that is cleansed and ready for analysis.


I must ponder what else can be done by harvesting IoT data from wearable technology to act as inputs into science related research.  Clearly protection of personal information is paramount and vital for this strategy to work well.  If the data in anonymized properly and safely, then contributors will feel that it is acceptable to connect.  Must academic research has strict rules to protect user data, so these types of studies will be safer.  Private company studies may be riskier, so the devil is in the details of the use and purpose agreements.  I want to help, but I do not want to take any risks.  If this objective to keep my data confidential can be achieved, then I am all in for this strategy.


Ranger, S. (2019). Got an iPhone, Apple Watch? Your health data could spark a medical breakthrough. ZDNet, a division of CBS Interactive. Retrieved on November 15, 2019 from,

About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.

He is a business and technology consultant. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more