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Apple Watch Gets Parkinson’s Disease Tracking Feature With New ResearchKit API

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Apple Watch will now be able to track symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The technology giant has reportedly added a new API to its ResearchKit framework that will let applications monitor users and look for signs of the disease. Earlier this week, Apple announced watchOS 5 at the Wordwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018. It is the company’s latest operating system for its Apple Watch models, and the update includes several exciting new features, such as a new Walkie-Talkie style of communication, interactive notifications, smarter version of Siri, and more. Meanwhile, the company is also reportedly adding a new ‘Movement Disorder API’ to its open-source ResearchKit framework that will enable the Apple Watch to continuously monitor symptoms of the disease.

As per a 9to5Mac report, the new API will enable developers using ResearchKit to provide all-day monitoring via the Apple Watch running watchOS 5. ResearchKit is an open source software framework that makes it easy to create apps for medical research or for other research projects. Meanwhile, the new API will essentially monitor two common symptoms seen in Parkinson’s disease, Tremours and Dyskinesia. The apps monitoring the two activities should be able to show a graphical data recorded based on instances such as symptoms witnessed daily, hourly, among other things.

Apple reportedly said that it has designed the new API using data collected from Parkinson’s patients in internal clinical studies. The ResearchKit was launched by Apple three years back, and researchers have been using it for studies on sleep health, concussions, autism, epilepsy melanoma, Parkinson’s disease, and more, Apple claims.

For Parkinson’s disease, the mPower study app now boasts over 10,000 participants, and Apple notes that this makes it “the largest Parkinson’s study in history.” Such apps use the ResearchKit to access the iPhone’s sensors and the Apple Watch to track various activities. But, the new Movement Disorder API will provide researchers with a new method and more detailed data for passively tracking symptoms using the Apple Watch.

Notably, the Movement Disorder API will be available to developers with the second developer release of watchOS 5, the 9to5Mac report noted. Apple has also released a sample study app on its ResearchKit GitHub page.