Thumbthing Writings by Bob Spryn, and Roderic Campbell, iOS Engineers and founders at Thumbworks

How we’ll get a ubiquitous EMR through disruption

A Social Disruption

For those of you that have been around long enough to remember any of the significant tech booms, you start seeing patterns in the behavior of incumbents and disrupters. Between 2002 and about 2011 there was a bit of a boom in social technology. Livejournal, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, AOL, Apple’s Ping (remember that one?) and many many others were vying for your eyes for advertising purposes. For some time it seemed like the leader baton was held by Friendster, then of course MySpace won the game, until they didn’t. Now obviously Facebook is a behemoth in social, and more importantly, many non-social spaces.

What’s most interesting about all of the interplay was that none of the serious social players were directly owned by any of what I’ll call incumbents. For instance, Microsoft, by all measures they were the winner in consumer computing for over a decade. They were a bit light on the search game with MSN Search. Google took that crown by investing heavily in search. Microsoft also more or less missed the social media revolution of the 2000s in that they never really had a sizable social play besides Hotmail until their massive $240M investment in Facebook in 2007. Not to single out Microsoft, Google gave social media the ole college try, but Orkut failed to achieve traction outside of very specific markets and Google Plus failed to any sizeable active userbase. Apple had Ping, a social network based on musical interests, but it was an awkward, half-hearted try by a company that clearly didn’t understand social.

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Additional possibilities with a ResearchKit mobile app

In our first post on using ResearchKit in clinical trials, we looked at the main components of ResearchKit, and the benefits of building a mobile app with it. Now we’ll examine additional possibilities made possible by building a clinical trial app.

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Making Clinical Trials Mobile

Mobile devices are revolutionizing every industry, one by one. The taxi industry, retail, even television are all being massively disrupted because that’s what consumers with smartphones are demanding.

In the next five years, smartphone ownership will go from 2B to 4B, and 80% of adults worldwide will have smartphones. The smartphone industry already dwarfs the PC industry - there will be 2-3x more smartphones than PCs in use in 2020. Smartphones have outpaced nearly any comparable technology in the leap to mainstream use.

Introducing ResearchKit

For medical research, it wasn’t a question of if, but when mobile disruption would happen. In April of 2015, Apple gave the medical research industry a big head start by introducing ResearchKit, an open source framework that allows researchers and developers to create powerful apps for medical research.

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WatchConnectivity Basics


One of the most anticipated announcements of WWDC 2015 was the exposure of an SDK to allow 3rd party developers the opportunity to put real software on the newly released Apple Watch. Before WWDC 2015, developers were allowed to put a UI on the watch, with the actual controllers of the app running on the iPhone itself. While this is decent for some cases, clear disadvantages appeared nearly immediately. Apps took time to load because the iPhone app had to wake up, do some things, then send content and state to the watch, at which point the watch could actually display something. An informal poll shows that folks generally didn’t use the apps that they’d installed on their watch because they felt too cumbersome.

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