Stanford University’s Center for Digital Health has launched a new program which offers its instructors and faculty members up to $10,000 in funding plus 1,000 Apple Watches in order to research how the wearable device can help to improve healthcare services.
A statement on the Center’s website states that the Apple Watch Seed Grant program has been designed to ‘support and stimulate creative applications of the Apple Watch to address important issues in healthcare.’ It adds that the University has a particular interest in high-impact projects which will have a positive influence on the selected study groups and on clinical workflow.
To gain acceptance into the program, a proposal has to incorporate the wearable device into its research in one of two ways: In the first instance, the research has to involve the sensing capabilities of the device. The second option is to utilize the notification and communication features built into the Apple Watch with the aim of creating behavioral change and provide coaching to users.
About the Stanford Center for Digital Health
The Stanford Center for Digital Health aims to lead advancement in the area of digital health through research collaborations between its faculty members and various technology companies. As Mintu Turakhia, MD, the center’s senior director of research and innovation and an associate professor in cardiovascular medicine states, the center’s goal is to enable the university community to do ‘cool stuff’ that improves healthcare through the use of technology.
The center offers a platform where health experts, tech innovators and students can come together to share knowledge. By providing support and infrastructure in the field of digital health, the center has also become a vital internal resource for the entire Stanford community.
Projects That Have Received Seed Funding
To date, the projects which have received seed funding have been selected because they study if the creative use of the smart watch can bring about positive healthcare outcomes. Below is a list of the projects that have been selected by the Stanford Apple Watch Research grant program as well as the principal investigators:
- A virtual therapist for arm recovery in stroke patients (ReClaim)
- Health technology – Harnessing the mindset
- Exploring an artificial intelligence approach to supporting adherence behaviors in psychiatric clinical care
- Reducing hyperactivity and supporting attention for youth with ADHD (Stop, Watch)
- The prevention of individualized migraine attacks with self-reported and passively collected data
A Boost for the Apple Watch
The launch of the Stanford Apple Watch digital health grants is most definitely good news for Apple, a company that has been increasingly venturing into the mobile health applications space in the last few years. Although the device was designed with its main focus being physical fitness tracking, the area of wellness is one that Apple has become increasingly involved in.
Speaking to Bloomberg last year, the company’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook, was categorical that health assessment is a major goal for his company’s smart watch. He said that the watch developers’ Holy Grail is the ability to monitor more of the things going on in the body. Tom added that if it became possible for users to have a device that knows so much about them and the status of their health, it would go a long way towards extending and improving the quality of human lives.
Apple Hoping for Improved Reliability in Healthcare Applications
According to reports, Apple initially had much grander ambitions with regard to health-oriented sensors when it developed its smart watch, including measuring tools for important metrics like blood oxygen levels and blood pressure. However, the technology company had to scale them down because of their unreliability.
Regardless of this, there is a lot that can be achieved with its mobile devices, as Apple’s CareKit and ResearchKit platforms have proven; as long as developers and healthcare research professionals are ready to apply a little imagination. In fact, the company’s HealthKit application was developed with significant input from a leading expert on diabetes from Stanford.
While many health-related apps for Apple Watch are available that help to predict serious health issues like seizures, it is hoped that the Stanford research will bring the use of the Apple Watch in the field of wellness to a new level.
The program to provide Apple Watches to research projects by Stanford University’s Center for Digital Health will allow for vital research that will enable the further development of cutting edge tools for the improvement of healthcare as well as optimized use for the tech giant’s smart watch. Although it is apparent that the program has not been made available to everyone, if you are interested in learning more about its scope, funding, selection criteria, eligibility and other details, you will find these details on the Stanford website.