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The HealthKit Framework

The topic of health is a very promising one among mobile development trends. It is certainly caused by such factors as a healthy lifestyle trend, vogue of various gadgets monitoring body state/activity among geeks, and the availability of powerful handheld full-time operating devices (even with a permanent connection to the Internet) capable of storing/processing information.

Thus, the release of a separate framework for Health in new iOS8 has been quite expected. A very important factor here is device dependence on Apple infrastructure. Unlike competitors such out-of-the-box solutions have been already implemented: iCloud for data storage, a powerful privacy control system, specifications and standards for development of both software and technical updates. For example, each Apple device has Bluetooth LE available during two generations of devices, while the fragmentation of this segment on the Android market is not that good.

HealthKit is a centralized system for storing (and somewhat processing) quite a wide range of medical and secondary indicators with access control system to read and record (separately) for third-party applications.

On a basic level, the user has an option to fill in the basic physical characteristics of their organism, information about diseases, nutrition, and so on. On the application level this allows to systematize the data and represent them to medical staff.

We can see a much more interesting scenario while using third-party systems. The user applies a third-party pedometer/heart rate monitor (tracker) device that sends the statistics on the daily activity in HealthKit. In addition to it user fills in, for example, some basic information about the amount of received calories. Based on these data, the third-party mobile app (with the access to the user’s personal data like age, weight, sex, activity, and calories) can calculate guidelines for the taking of vitamins and diet. At the same time, we can mention smart trainers, whose app also receives the same data. So the user who bought such trainers can get an individual cross-training program! Additionally, the user also gets a possibility of gamification of their workouts and ability to compete with friends in achievements.

The framework itself provides methods for:

Privacy – control of the availability of different parameters for different applications.

Sample – a set of vital parameters (Body Measurements, Fitness Identifiers, Vital Signs Identifiers, Results Identifiers, Nutrition Identifiers, Sleep Identifiers, Characteristics Identifiers, Correlation Identifiers, Workout Identifier).

Units – units of measurement with the possibility of conversion adjusted according to iOS localization.

Digital Signatures – digital subscription and encryption of data transmitted from an external devices/applications in order to ensure privacy.

In the next issues of our blog we will consider creating a simple digital tracking device interacting with HealthKit.

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