Tech giant Microsoft has invented a watch-style device that has the potential to curtail the tremors that plague those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The wristband produces small vibrations that travel through the person’s wrist, causing the shaking caused by the neurological condition to stop.
The wristband, named the Emma Watch, vibrates based on a specific pattern. As reported by The Telegraph, the pattern was designed to “disrupt the feedback loop between the brain and hand,” according to Microsoft.
Parkinson’s Disease often causes sufferers to shake uncontrollably. The tremors prevent many of those with the disease from completing many daily tasks, such as writing notes, getting dressed, and using a computer.
The Emma Watch is currently in the prototype development phase. It was created by Haiyan Zhang, a Microsoft developer, and was designed to help Zhang’s friend Emma Lawton, a graphic designer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2013.
Unveiling the wristband during Microsoft’s annual developer’s conference, the tech company said, “The technology has the potential to help Parkinson’s patients manage symptoms that impede regular functions.”
During the announcement of the wristband, a video showed Lawton writing legibly and drawing, tasks that would have otherwise been a challenge without the Emma Watch.
The watch was designed specifically for Lawton as well as a BBC documentary titled The Big Life Fix. At this time. It is unknown whether the Emma Watch will be released, though Microsoft confirmed intentions to continue working in the area, stating, “The goal of further research is to determine whether Emma Watch could help other people with similar Parkinson’s symptoms.”
Additional sensors and software associated with the Emma Watch are able to monitor and track Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors and stiffness. Speaking about these capabilities, Microsoft said, “Once these symptoms can be identified and measures, it’s possible to develop technology and devices that help humans manage their symptoms.”
“AI is used to classify the sensor information and elicit real-time responses on small devices like wearables.”
Currently, 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease each year in the US, and over 10 million individuals are living with the disease across the world today.