Computer Scientist built a watch that calmed her Graphic Designer friend’s Parkinson’s tremors

Microsoft has invented a wristband that could help stem the tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease. The Emma Watch sends small vibrations through a wearer’s wrist that can stop the shaking experienced by those with the neurological disease. It vibrates with a distinctive pattern that has been designed to “disrupt the feedback loop between the brain and hand”, Microsoft said. Uncontrollable shaking is one of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, which affects around 127,000 people in the UK. It can prevent sufferers from conducting routine tasks such as getting dressed, writing things down or using a computer.

Currently a prototype, the Emma Watch was created by Microsoft developer Haiyan Zhang for her friend Emma Lawton, a 32-year-old graphic designer diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013. Microsoft unveiled the device at its annual developer’s conference in a video that shows Lawton regaining the ability to draw, a passion she has struggled with since her diagnosis. With the Emma on her wrist Lawton is able to write legibly and draw straight lines, something she struggles with on her own. “The technology has the potential to help Parkinson’s patients manage symptoms that impede regular functions,” said Microsoft. The Emma Watch is currently a prototype designed specifically for Lawton and a BBC documentary called The Big Life Fix. It is not clear if it will be released widely, but Microsoft said it plans to conduct further work in the area. “The goal of further research is to determine whether Emma Watch could help other people with similar Parkinson’s symptoms,” it said. It is fitted with sensors and software that could monitor other patients’ symptoms including tremors and stiffness to  create further products. “Once these symptoms can be identified and measured, its possible to develop technology and devices that help humans manage their symptoms,” said Microsoft. “AI is used to classify the sensor information and elicit real-time responses on small devices like wearables.” Zhang has previously designed cutlery that can react to people’s movement to prevent them from spilling food. Read more at the source

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