I've been following wearable tech with an interest in some of the technologies being developed that can help people with health, wellness and ableness challenges. Last summer at a We Are Wearables meetup in Toronto, I wasn't the only person in the packed audience moved to tears by a mother who was blind, recounting the story of seeing her baby for the first time, with the help of the device she was wearing.
Lots of people are using activity and fitness tracking wearables to improve their health and attain goals in everyday ways now. The opportunity for technology to influence behaviour and improve health has never been more accessible. And so, I got really excited when – slipped awkwardly into Apple's shiny, conspicuous consumption ad/new product announcement – Tim Cook announced ResearchKit. Used with iPhones and iWatches, this is wearable tech that's transformational for medical research. With the promise of making research much more accessible, the hard-to-fund diseases that have so far defied treatment can now have targeted apps developed to track and understand patients in an on-going way – and a chance to engage with patients anywhere and everywhere.
Even the easier to fund diseases like cancer find it a challenge getting patients to sign up for research and because funding is tighter than ever, research is tightly focused with very small trials to start. I've been tracking the research on a disease that's got some brilliant minds in medicine, science and technology on it at Stanford and Harvard – the cost of research is staggering and the access to patients is highly limited. I kept thinking, there's got to be a better way, and then this happened.
Apple opening up ResearchKit to developers means that now medical research on human activity, health and behavior can be as fast and nimble – and accessible – as developing an addictive new app for something pointless. It's huge. It's like Steve Jobs' spirit came back to give purpose and meaning, improving people's lives. Can't wait to see what develops.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every brand that is making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.