Soon you will be able to detect, track Parkinson's with your Apple Watch

Apple to delay iOS features to 2019
The audience assembles before the start of Apple's annual developer conference in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017 REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Apple Inc. has launched a new Application Programming Interface (API) that will allow apps to track and monitor diseases like Parkinson's. The company unveiled the framework at a session on advances in research as part of WWDC 2018 in San Jose.

The Movement Disorder Tracking API will come embedded with watchOS 5, the latest version of the software for Apple Watch. It is part of Apple's ResearchKit which is used by developers and doctors to track and monitor various medical parameters using the watch's onboard sensors.

The API is a passive all-day monitor that tracks two key parameters - tremors while resting and fidgeting/swaying. These are the two biggest physical symptoms of the disease. The fidgeting is usually a result of medication used to suppress the tremors.

Parkinson's is a disease that leads to nerve cell damage in the brain. As a result, patients slowly lose control of their body's movements. The degenerative disorder usually requires clinical testing for long periods. As a result, testing and results are often inconsistent, making the disease hard to diagnose.

With the new API, developers can create apps that can track the two parameters all day without using a significant charge of the battery. Passive tracking will allow the app to run in the background constantly so as to provide an accurate result and aid doctors in making the right diagnosis. It will also allow doctors to see if the patient's symptoms are reducing or worse.

The algorithms behind the API were developed through a clinical study on Parkinson's patients. With the API now out, users can expect apps to track Parkinson's to be available by the time watchOS 5 releases in September.

ResearchKit is Apple's set of APIs and frameworks that are used in a wide variety of clinical studies to track several diseases such as autism and cardiac fitness. Apple built the standard to allow doctors and hospitals real-time access to the latest and more accurate data of patients.