❤ Apple shares updates on its Hearing Study with iPhone and Apple Watch data
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Back in 2019, Apple announced three new health research studies based on data collected from the iPhone and Apple Watch. To coincide with International Noise Awareness Day on April 26, the company shared updates on its Hearing Study conducted in partnership with the University of Michigan.
Apple launching three new research studies including hearing, cycle tracking, heart, and movement
Apple has announced three new health studies powered in part by the Apple Watch. Three new studies include hearing, cycle tracking, heart, and movement research. Apple is also launching a new Apple Research app for enrolling in each study.
Apple announces three groundbreaking health studies
UPDATE September 10, 2019
In Collaboration with Leading Medical Institutions, Apple to Examine Hearing, Women’s, Mobility and Heart Health
The new Research app displaying healthy study enrollment options on iPhone.
Three new studies, available on the Research app later this fall, will explore new areas of medical research.
Apple today announced three unprecedented medical studies, in partnership with leading academic and research institutions, that will reach more participants than has ever been possible. The studies will be available on the new Research app,1 which democratizes how medical research is conducted by bringing together academic medical institutions, healthcare organizations and the Apple products customers already make a part of their everyday life. Participants will contribute to potential medical discoveries and help create the next generation of innovative health products. The Research app will be available as a free download in the App Store later this year.
“With the Apple Heart Study, we found that we could positively impact medical research in ways that help patients today and that make contributions that will benefit future generations,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Today’s announcement carries our commitment to health even further by engaging with participants on a larger scale than ever before.”
A heart rate reading displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.
The Apple Heart and Movement Study will look into the connection of heart health and mobility signals, like walking pace.
The studies include:
Apple Women’s Health Study: In partnership with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Apple has created the first long-term study of this scale focused on menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions. This study will inform screening and risk assessment of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis, pregnancy and menopausal transition.
Apple Heart and Movement Study: Apple is partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association on a comprehensive study of how heart rate and mobility signals — like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed — relate to hospitalizations, falls, heart health and quality of life in order to promote healthy movement and improved cardiovascular health.
Apple Hearing Study: Alongside the University of Michigan, Apple is examining factors that impact hearing health. The Apple Hearing Health Study is the first of its kind to collect data over time in order to understand how everyday sound exposure can impact hearing. The study data will also be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a contribution toward its Make Listening Safe initiative.
The new Cycle Tracking app on Apple Watch Series 5.
The Apple Women’s Health Study will explore gynecological conditions on an unparalleled scale.
Apple’s support of the medical research community began with the introduction of ResearchKit and CareKit, which expanded the pace and scale at which healthcare could be studied and provided. Apple used ResearchKit to create the Apple Heart Study, which was the largest study of its kind and illustrated the impact virtual, large-scale studies can have on medical research by examining atrial fibrillation to provide validation for the irregular rhythm notification feature on Apple Watch.
“Women make up half of the world’s population, yet even today there has been limited investment in studying their unique health needs,” said Michelle A. Williams, a reproductive epidemiologist and dean of the faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School. “This study, unprecedented in scope, will greatly advance our understanding of the biological and social determinants of women’s health, and lead to better health outcomes.”
“This is an exciting opportunity for NIEHS researchers to contribute to the study design and use the resulting data to answer novel questions, not only important to women of reproductive age, but to women of all ages,” said Dale Sandler, Ph.D., chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.
“We are excited to be working with all the study participants and with Apple to identify the features of complex human physiology that lead to different outcomes in wellness or chronic disease, and to use this information to empower individuals to maximize their own health,” said Calum MacRae, the vice chair of Scientific Innovation for the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“At the American Heart Association, we are a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, and we are committed to educating and empowering people to be proactive in all areas of their heart health and general well-being,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “We believe that emerging technology solutions that seek to provide deeper health insights offer great potential in getting us there. We are collaborating with Apple and Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the Apple Heart and Movement Study to explore the correlation between a broad range of physical activities and a person’s overall heart health to ultimately understand risks and interventions to improve health.”
“We are excited about this unique opportunity to partner with Apple to determine how everyday activities affect our hearing,” said DuBois Bowman, dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “The information gleaned from this partnership will be critical for us to address the public health impact of various noise exposures on hearing loss in the United States.”
“The World Health Organization is pleased to note the announcement of the Apple Hearing Study which will contribute toward our Make Listening Safe initiative by improving our understanding of users’ listening behaviors,” said Dr. Shelly Chadha, technical officer of Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss at the World Health Organization. “With over a billion young people who could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening, WHO is addressing this challenge through raising awareness and setting new standards for safe listening. The knowledge gained through this study will contribute to future public health action in this field.”
Images of Apple Health Studies
Available in the US only.
Apple Hearing Study
Since watchOS 6, Apple Watch users can rely on the Noise app, which measures the level of noise in the user’s environment, to warn of potential ear damage. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people shouldn’t be exposed to an average annual noise level above 70 decibels (dBA).
The study, conducted in partnership between Apple and the University of Michigan, uses this data to measure the impacts of noise exposure on hearing health. In 2021, Apple shared the first insights from this study, which showed that 25% of participants experienced exposure to sound levels louder than the recommended limit at some point.
In most instances, this happened during common situations like being in traffic, working with machinery, and riding public transportation.
The most recent data show that 1 in 3 adults in the US, around 77 million people, are exposed to excessive noise levels. The states with the highest populations have the largest number of those affected by high-decibel noise. This includes California, Texas, Florida, and New York.
The highest percentage of participants exposed to noise levels that are often above 70 dBA reside in Puerto Rico (44%) and the lowest percentage reside in Washington DC (20%).
Here’s how to protect your ears from external noise
According to Apple and the University of Michigan, there are a few things people can do to protect themselves from loud noises. These include wearing hearing protection devices such as earplugs in noisy environments, buying quiet appliances, and taking regular breaks from noisy areas when possible.
If you own an Apple Watch, be sure to check out the Noise app for a better idea of the sound noise levels in your environment. You can also enable notifications for when you’re exposed to above-recommended levels for extended periods of time.
It’s worth noting that the Apple Hearing Study is available in the United States through the Apple Research app for iPhone.