Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

Microsoft's Emma Watch is likely to help people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease

Microsoft's Emma Watch is likely to help people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease

In its developer conference of 2017, Microsoft showcased a wearable device.

Using an invention, supported by a BBC project and Haiyan Zhang, Microsoft Research Cambridge's innovation director, Lawton has been able to use a wearable device to reclaim her lifelong passion for drawing and sketching.

Zhang wanted to help Emma overcome her handicap.

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The shaking makes it nearly impossible for Emma Lawton, who is a graphic designer, to draw straight lines or write clearly.

The watch works through a combination of sensors and A.I.techniques to potentially detect and monitor symptoms like tremors, stiffness and instability, among others.

What's more, the Emma is only able to control tremors in Lawton's hand, so she continues to need medication to help mitigate the impact of the disease on the rest of her body.

Haiyan Zhang is the inventor who built the device for her friend named Emma Lawton.

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While Zhang says that Microsoft isn't sure why the bracelet works quite yet, she explained that it could be short-circuiting Lawton's perception of her tremors so her brain doesn't actively fight them. Something about the vibrations is enough to block the feedback loop between Lawton's hand and brain, easing her tremors and allowing her to write and draw once again.

Lawton uses a rhythmic series of vibrations, but the pattern can be customized using an app on a Windows 10 tablet.

As a comparison of Emma's writing without the watch and with it shows, it's not ideal but it is much better.

Though there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder, many companies are launching initiatives to help the people diagnosed with it live better lives. Microsoft said that "she sometimes worked in her London home, soldering wires to PC boards and tinkering with coin cell motors to create vibrations".

Emma Watch remains a prototype, Microsoft says, but the developers are working with a neuroscience research team to undertake trials with a small group of Parkinson's sufferers.

Microsoft has invented a wristband that could help stem the tremors caused by Parkinson's Disease.

The Emma watch is among a long list of cool technologies by Microsoft personnel.

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