ResearchKit: Sexual Assault App Concept

I sat down on a warm friday night to watch one of my favorite shows, Real Time with Bill Maher. On this night has first guests were two women involved in making the film “The Hunting Ground”. An expose on college campus rape culture. If you attended college in the United States you know about the rampant rise of sexual assault on college campuses.

As I listened to Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino answer questions one response caught my ear:

“The best statistic we have from the DoJ are 1 in 5 women are assaulted on campus and only 40% of colleges report any type of sexual assault”

The Numbers

Considering the social stigma and shame sexual assault can induce on its victims this make sense. Victims are often either too embarrassed to report it or are worried about emotional or physical retribution. Also most sexual assaults last ~5 minutes and considering the hectic physical and emotional toll it takes on a person obtain this info in a timely manner is crucial. A few questions began to enter my mind:

- How can we obtain more accurate information about sexual assaults on college campuses?
- How can we collect this info in a timely anonymous manner?
- What data would medical professionals be interested in?
- What platform/device would be best to college this information anonymously?

The Start

I immediately began to research free forms online that colleges use for people to submit information on sexual assaults. With the newly released ResearchKit from Apple collecting this information becomes ubiquitous. An iOS device can collect much more data than a simple text based answers. My thoughts include:

Heart Rate Using the camera on the back of the iPhone, you can determine a victim’s heart rate.
Accelerometer In an effort to measure anxiety levels the victim can simply hold the device while it measures tremors.
Camera Taking real time photos of the results of the incident, time stamping, allow instant documentation of injuries.

Concept Mockups

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Consent and Data Apple’s ResearchKit is an open source community of developers and medical research groups to leverage the unmeasurable smartphone users out there will medical conditions.

Having access to so many people with such powerful device will help crowdsource cures to today’s diseases.

As Apple is keen to respect the user each person must join the study by providing general but not identifying information. If the victim of sexual assault doesn't feel comfortable coming out they can still report information anonymously.

Heart Rate Reading

Stress and Anxiety Smartphones are so powerful the cameras equipped on them can measure your heart rate in seconds. Simply placing any finger gently against the lens to show a graphic of an EKG wave along with a numerical read out of your current heart rate.

Used in conjunction with the accelerator to detect shaking of the hands can help lead researchers to know victim anxiety levels after an attack.


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Gathering Information Given the ubiquity of smartphones and the deterioration of memories after traumatic events, collecting information as early as possible could help retain valuable information.

The questions were directly quoted from a generic sexual assault form from a nearby community college.

Users simply need to select anywhere over the text of the white space around to select a field. Their selection is re enforced with the checkmark on the right. During these moments simplicity takes precedence.


Comprehensive Retrieval As mentioned earlier, the list shown here is from section headers within the form overall. I’ve added the Victim Health Assessment section for heart rate and anxiety checks.

Once a survey has been completed the user is returned to this page to continue filling out others. Each Survey should only be 4–9 questions.

Interactivity is responsive. If a number is requested the number pad keyboard is shown. Date entry is helped by a date picker.

These surveys may be filled out more often to help achieve and more accurate view into a cause too long under reported.