Technology to save lives. Technology to save Radio.

Should Apple’s ResearchKit for medical research be a wake-up call for audience research in Broadcast?

Apple users will help improve Health

Every time that Apple’s CEO takes the stage in San Francisco for introducing a new product, the coverage in media is massive for days. From the most recent Keynote held last Monday 9th, two devices stood as thestars of the presentation: Apple Watch and the new Macbook.

However, I’m not going to write a single word about any of them. I’ll rather aim my attention at the only actual breakthrough, in my opinion, that Tim Cook unveiled: the ResearchKit.

Technology at the service of medical research. All of us contributing to a better and healthier life for human beings. Each of us benefiting from a faster diagnose and response to illness.

Apple intends to assist medical researchers and accelerate their investigations by addressing three problems:

  • Sometimes researchers see patients only once a quarter,making it difficult to get a complete picture of their health.
  • Finding volunteers for medical studies has always been tough. And low participation can make understanding a disease more difficult.
  • Subjective data is a challenge, like when patients rate their pain on a scale from 1 to 10.

Apple’s devices such as the iPhone (and very likely the Apple Watch in the future), its sensors and now this new software framework called ResearchKit, address all those three problems. Apple, in collaboration with universities, researchers and medical organisations,envisions a medical research that is continuous, based on objective data and from thousand — if not millions — of subjects.

What about the health of Media?

I admired the vision that Apple exhibited. Not just as authentic leap towards Health improvement, but as analogy of what absorbed all my energies in the last two years: health of broadcast media, specifically Radio.

The issues brought up by Apple when describing traditional medical research, might easily resonate with traditional audience research in Radio — in broadcast industry by extension — . Let’s do the exercise of replacing medical for audience research:

  • Audience research is conducted with too low periodicity.
  • Audience research sometimes uses small panels or too limited samples.
  • Audience research is based on subjective perceptions.

And we already know the consequences of that. I continue paraphrasing Apple: It’s very difficult to get a complete picture of the health of the patient and understanding the disease can be difficult.

What if we are treating the health of your radio station?


I’m a co-founder of Voizzup, a startup that provides radio with daily audience research by turning data analysis from the mobile apps of the stations into qualitative insights.

© 2018 - Tommy Ferraz