Apple recently unveiled the Apple Watch – its first new device in the post-Steve Jobs era.

Despite being the number one company on the planet per market cap, critics have speculated the company’s lost its fastball without the innovative founder at the helm. I’m not sure about how the watch will fare. I don’t wear a watch (rendered obsolete by the cell phone) but I once thought the tablet was nothing more than a novelty.

The most intriguing aspect of the announcement for me was the unveiling of ResearchKit, a software platform that enables researchers to gather data on iPhone users using the device’s hardware. If the full potential is realized, this opens up a whole new world of research for the medical community in terms of both monitoring and learning about health. With the explosion of big data, there’s definitely a chance previously undiscovered connections and patterns will be uncovered. People are excited about this.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s not certain what kind of impact this will have – if any at all. There’s also the matter of a company collecting more data on users and, while Apple has assured the public of its good intentions, there will always be worries about the ethics of expanded data collection.

Then there’s the matter of what’s in it for Apple. According to Yahoo!’s David Pogue, it’s not profit. So what’s really in it for Apple?

On the surface, it looks like it’s motivated by a desire to make their product more indispensable and valuable to consumers. To that end, I would argue there’s a bit of motivation on profits. Really, though, this is rooted in the betterment of humanity.

Apple is using its resources to inspire and promote positive change. It certainly makes the company look good, but it’s also a statement: Apple is a company that is still willing to reexamine what is currently out there and find ways to improve it, not just by changing design and functionality, either.

ResearchKit should be considered a meaningful development that has the potential to eclipse any impact the company made while under the leadership of Jobs. That’s pretty remarkable to think about, given everything Apple’s stood for over the years.

Depending on the success of ResearchKit, there could be a ripple effect in Silicon Valley with more companies looking to tap into Apple’s goodwill and advancement of humanity. Apple set the table, now others can step in and build off the foundation. It’s a great move by Apple to lead the charge.

It looks like the spirit of innovation hasn’t left Cupertino.