Apple ($AAPL) just gained a powerful ally in its push to make ResearchKit a core component of the health research toolkit. The Silicon Valley tech giant has tapped IBM ($IBM) for access to Watson, the data-mining and predictive analytics capabilities of which will be applied to health research.
The deal sees IBM use its cloud storage infrastructure and Watson's cognitive computing capabilities to support Apple's pitches for the healthcare and research sectors, HealthKit and ResearchKit. IBM will de-identify and store data gathered by HealthKit and ResearchKit-based apps. What differentiates IBM's offering from an average cloud storage provider is what it can do with the data. Users can pull in data from other sources and apply Watson's capabilities to analyze it alongside results gathered from their HealthKit and ResearchKit apps.
|IBM's John Kelly|
IBM is excited about the potential of the relationship. "IBM's secure data storage and analytics solutions will enable doctors and researchers to draw on real-time insights from consumer health and behavioral data at a scale never before possible," IBM SVP John Kelly III said in a statement. Apple's ResearchKit has already shown that if it fails to live up to the hype it won't be for lack of scale. And with the apps now feeding data into IBM's system, the setup has backend with the ambition to match its patient-facing component.
The hookup formed part of a busy week for the burgeoning health-focused operations of both companies. Apple released the source code for ResearchKit on GitHub, while IBM began a full-scale push to establish Watson's place in healthcare. The push included alliances with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Medtronic ($MDT), the acquisitions of Explorys and Phytel and the setting up of a 2,000-person health hub in Boston, MA. The Explorys buyout gives IBM health records for 50 million people that it can feed into Watson.