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(Pocket-lint) - Apple has announced a software framework that expands upon its HealthKit idea to give medical research teams that ability to create apps that can help diagnose diseases and medical issues.

Apple ResearchKit is an open source platform and has already been in the hands of several universities and medical professionals who have been designing interesting apps as part of the project. One, for example, can detect possible Parkinson's symptoms just by vocal cord irregularities when a user speaks or makes a sound caught by the handset's microphone.

A gait and balance test can fine tune the diagnosis further, and benefits from being able to utilise the accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensorsaccelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors in an iPhone.

It's almost like the teams can turn their phones into Tricorders from the original Star Trek series, as used by Dr Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

Other examples given during Apple's spring forward press event include apps for self-diagnosis signs for breast cancer, asthma and cardiovascular disease. And for those worried about privacy issues, all data is completely secure. Even Apple won't be able to see any of the information generated by the specific applications.

All of the first wave of ResearchKit apps will be available in the iTunes store from today. You will be able to download and check them out later. And we suspect they will be the first of many.

There is the Asthma Health app, Share the Journey, MyHeart Counts, GlucoSuccess, and the aforementioned Parkinson mPower application.

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Writing by Rik Henderson.