Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices


Mar 16, 2015 / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen


From TechCrunch.com...


Article Excerpt: Medical research is plagued by small sample sizes and inconsistent data collection. So Apple is stepping up to help health innovation with Research Kit, a new iOS software framework that lets people volunteer to join medical research studies. ResearchKit lets people take tests like saying “ahhh” to detect vocal variations, walking in a line, or tapping in rhythm to test for Parkinson’s Disease.


...Tests designed with ResearchKit use the iPhone’s sensors to record data. The touch screen can feel people tapping in rhythm to detect inconsistencies that may signal a disease. The accelerometer can compare the gait and balance of someone’s walk against a healthy person’s speed and posture. And the microphone can notice minute fluctuations in someone’s voice that may indicate Parkinson’s or another health problem.


Link to the full article HERE.


InterpretAmerica's Take: One of the things that distinguishes interpreting as a profession is that for most kinds of interpreting, interpreters work in someone else's workplace: in hospitals, courtrooms, schools, government agencies, non-profit organizations and basically any place that needs a language barrier bridged. This means that we have to deal with the disruption occuring in how people communicate because of technological change both inside and outside of our profession. The key question often becomes: Where did our language access or communication pathway disappear to and how can we get it back?

This week's article provides a stark example of this reality. Launched just over a week ago, Apple's new ResearchKit makes it ever easier for individual people to track and then communicate in real time many kinds of health information that previously required a personal, face-to-face interaction with a medical provider. The healthcare field is, according to some studies, where the greatest number of interpreters work and where the greatest opportunities for new employment exist. At the same time, the medical profession is undergoing huge and unprecendented change, especially in how providers communicate with patients. 


Will interpreters/translators be tapped to facilitate that critical communication or as is more likely, will developers soon realize they need to layer on a language bridge and instead seek to link their apps to very imperfect machine translation solutions? The answer will lie at least partially in how we as a profession respond.


In an effort to further this conversation, it is these kinds of forward-looking questions that we will be asking at InterpretAmerica 5 on June 12-13, 2015, in Monterey, California. Won't you join us?

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