Johns Hopkins taps Apple Watch, ResearchKit for upcoming epilepsy study with eye on seizure predicti

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2015
Johns Hopkins University, in partnership with developer Thread Research, plans to harness Apple Watch and iPhone sensors to power an ambitious ResearchKit study on epilepsy that could one day lead to an accurate method of predicting seizures.




Seeking deeper insight into epileptic seizures and their effect on the human body, Johns Hopkins' ResearchKit study will collect heart rate sensor and accelerometer data from Watch, gyroscope data from iPhone and dynamic user feedback to track a variety of biometric measurements during a seizure episode, according to a source familiar with the project. The iPhone and Watch apps, now in beta testing, are slated to go live on Sept. 18.

While sensor readings are automated, like many current iPhone-based ResearchKit initiatives, other metrics are not so easily ascertained. Activating the test process and measuring lucidity, for example, require some form of direct user interaction, a steep demand considering the extremely stressful nature of a seizure event. To help participants complete individual sessions they are given physical cues to answer contextual onscreen survey questions via Watch's Taptic Engine. Alternatively, a caregiver might be able to initiate the testing process if present, the person said.

As with previous ResearchKit initiatives, the seizure study is to be conducted on an opt-in basis, though Johns Hopkins is hoping the proliferation of Apple's popular devices will help garner a larger test pool. Further, Apple's ResearchKit framework securely anonymizes sensitive data uploads, allaying concerns over privacy that traditionally inhibit participation.

ResearchKit was introduced in March as an iOS-based tool with which medical researchers can expand candidate pools and achieve more accurate results. One of the first integrations, a cardiovascular study conducted by Stanford University, saw more than 10,000 participants sign up less than 24 hours after its debut, a feat that would have taken a year under normal circumstances. Recent reports claim Big Pharma is also looking to apply Apple's open source framework in clinical trials and R&D underpinning for-profit operations.

As for the upcoming seizure initiative, Johns Hopkins is creating appropriate study requirements, while Thread Research handles app integration and deployment, as well as backend considerations. This is the second ResearchKit project for Thread, which in June partnered with the University of California, San Francisco to conduct a study on LGBTQ health issues.

Finally, the project's scheduled activation date of Sept. 18 might hint at Apple's watchOS 2 release plans considering the forthcoming firmware is required to access Watch sensor APIs. Apple is said to be actively involved in bringing the seizure study to market as it helps get ResearchKit off the ground, suggesting the development team has an inkling of watchOS 2 availability.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,928member
    It is a good idea to use people's mobile phones to gather data for medical experiments. Compare this with Google whose first thought is gathering people's info for advertising.

    I read an article today (on Ars) about a group of people who are going through past scientific papers and trying to reproduce the results. About half could not be reproduced. This makes me think scientists need better data (e.g. ResearchKit) and less ego (that part is up to them).
  • Reply 2 of 16
    It is more than good. It is a potential game changer in health care and medical. One of the best things Apple has brought onto the market.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    This is very important to our family. My wife died suddenly, unexpectedly at age 59 of a seizure. Our daughter has had 2 seizures.

    The ability of doctors to remotely monitor their patients could easily be extended to allow parents to remotely monitor their children, parents and loved ones.
  • Reply 4 of 16

    Interesting use for the Watch's sensor, and a great way to use the underrated ResearchKit.

    Thanks to Johns Hopkins and Apple for the effort.

     

    Now, just think if we could attach a band with blood glucose monitoring lasers. That would open a whole new door to medical research. C'mon Apple, make it happen!

  • Reply 5 of 16
    Interesting use for the Watch's sensor, and a great way to use the underrated ResearchKit.
    Thanks to Johns Hopkins and Apple for the effort.

    Now, just think if we could attach a band with blood glucose monitoring lasers. That would open a whole new door to medical research. C'mon Apple, make it happen!

    That may be coming, but it might be more appropriate for a medical equipment company to partner with Apple on something like that.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 410member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post



    This is very important to our family. My wife died suddenly, unexpectedly at age 59 of a seizure. Our daughter has had 2 seizures.



    The ability of doctors to remotely monitor their patients could easily be extended to allow parents to remotely monitor their children, parents and loved ones.



    We're quite involved with seizures (multiple a day).

    This experiment - as it is explained - is completely useless.

  • Reply 7 of 16
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,586member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post



    It is a good idea to use people's mobile phones to gather data for medical experiments. Compare this with Google whose first thought is gathering people's info for advertising.



    I read an article today (on Ars) about a group of people who are going through past scientific papers and trying to reproduce the results. About half could not be reproduced. This makes me think scientists need better data (e.g. ResearchKit) and less ego (that part is up to them).



    My only concern (that I have dwelt on at least), is keeping data out of the hands of insurance companies. I wouldn't want to see people discriminated against. Of course, these companies might not actually need to see the data, only assert, in the process of dishonouring a claim, that a client withheld information. 

  • Reply 8 of 16

    @Blitz1- sorry, but unless you give informed reasons for your comment, it's worthless.

  • Reply 9 of 16
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blitz1 View Post

     



    We're quite involved with seizures (multiple a day).

    This experiment - as it is explained - is completely useless.


    sorry, but unless you give informed reasons for your comment, it's worthless.

  • Reply 10 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,928member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

     



    My only concern (that I have dwelt on at least), is keeping data out of the hands of insurance companies. I wouldn't want to see people discriminated against. Of course, these companies might not actually need to see the data, only assert, in the process of dishonouring a claim, that a client withheld information. 


    Is the data associated with individuals, or is it aggregated/anonymized? I guess it would depend on the experiment.

     

    I think the company Theranos has some good ideas. Their basic premise is that medical breakthroughs are not needed to cure a lot of things, just earlier detection. But people don't get tested frequently enough because you need to go to a mean nasty hospital and have several viles of blood taken. So they have reengineered many common blood tests so they can all be done on the same single drop of blood, meaning you can walk in to retail store once a month, prick your finger, and get the results emailed to you within 24 hours.

     

    Early detection is also where the iPhone/Apple Watch (with a few extra sensors) can play a role.

  • Reply 11 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,315member
    That may be coming, but it might be more appropriate for a medical equipment company to partner with Apple on something like that.
    There is testing going on now using "smartwatch" like wearables for 24-7 monitoring of health conditions, and techs are looking for medical device partners. Regulatory agencies aren't going to be rushed into approvals tho.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 410member
    sorry, but unless 

    you give informed reasons for your comment, it's worthless.

    Because, simply put, when you're having a seizure, you can't do anything, let alone find an app on a minuscule screen and then activate it
  • Reply 13 of 16

    we all laugh at the "i've fallen and I can't get up" infomercial.. 

     

    but now you can get your baseball scores when you're not breaking your hip.

  • Reply 14 of 16
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blitz1 View Post





    Because, simply put, when you're having a seizure, you can't do anything, let alone find an app on a minuscule screen and then activate it



    The way I understand it, the purpose is to see whether one can derive IN-TIME indicators, hence giving the chance to contact e.g.a hospital before it actually happens.

  • Reply 15 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

     



    My only concern (that I have dwelt on at least), is keeping data out of the hands of insurance companies. I wouldn't want to see people discriminated against. Of course, these companies might not actually need to see the data, only assert, in the process of dishonouring a claim, that a client withheld information. 


     

    That's already what they do. Even if your data is 100% private with Apple, if the insurance company somehow finds out (through other means, and they have many), you're screwed.

  • Reply 16 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post



    This is very important to our family. My wife died suddenly, unexpectedly at age 59 of a seizure. Our daughter has had 2 seizures.



    The ability of doctors to remotely monitor their patients could easily be extended to allow parents to remotely monitor their children, parents and loved ones.

     

    All my sympathy for what you went through. I thought seizures in this day and age were better controlled! My cousin has been a life long epileptic and it's generally controlled, though in the 1960s when it started it was very bad and uncontrolled (she could have died then), but she'd not allowed to drive a car.

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