New Microsoft watch designed to quiet Parkinson's tremors

Posted at 10:23 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 19:15:50-04

(RNN) - A new device by Microsoft may someday help those suffering with Parkinson’s stop the arm shaking that comes with the disease.

During Wednesday’s Build 2017 convention in Seattle, the company introduced a wrist wearable they say will ease the tremors of the neurological disease.

The Emma watch is named after a Parkinson’s sufferer who helped create it.

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

Haiyan Zhang, innovation director at Microsoft Research, said that Lawton's input into making the watch was very important.

"It's all about listening to Emma describing her experience because that's one of the only ways you can understand what’s happening with her physiologically, and then drawing insights from that,” Zhang said.

No one has been able to cure the tremors, but this device is designed to significantly reduce them.

The device uses motors, like the ones in cell phones, to get the brain to focus on something other than stopping the arms from shaking.

Zhang said that people with Parkinson’s often are trying to move their hands and stop them from moving at the same time, which causes a conflict. The device is designed to stop that confusion.

“I think what happens with the device is … her brain no longer senses the hand tremoring and is no longer trying to do that loop of stopping the hand from tremoring," Zhang said. 

The watch is a prototype and not yet available for purchase. 

The company says more than 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease and 60,000 are diagnosed in the United States each year.

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