Health

It looks like a smartwatch fashion, but in reality it can be a breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson's

It is not usual that the presentation of the prototype of a technological product comes loaded with emotion and, above all, with hope. But there are exceptions. The last one was found yesterday, during the Microsoft Build 2017, held in Seattle, in which The company presented a prototype watch designed to minimize one of the most obvious symptoms of Parkinson's disease and that more limits the lives of those who suffer it: the tremors. The clock is called Emma and hides an emotional story behind.

The trembling of the hands of Parkinson's patients limits activities as daily for them as writing. One of the causes is the loop that enters your brain, which perceives movements in the hand, try to correct them and generate those involuntary tremors that find a hope of solution with Emma's prototype.

But why Emma? The story begins with Emma Lawton, a 32-year-old Parkinson's patient, whose graphic designer profession - and therefore her life - has been radically affected since diagnosis. Haiyan Zhang and Nicolas Villa are the other part of this story. They are two British Microsoft researchers who worked with Emma to apply the technology to control those tremors.

The idea seems simple: the clock vibrates with a distinctive pattern that breaks the loop between the brain and the hand. Combining a system of sensors with the power of artificial intelligence, the prototype detects tremors and counteracts them with another vibration, that of small motors that face those caused by the disease. So, the patient sees how his hand vibrates, but does not notice it, so that his brain does not produce the movement that tries to correct them. In the prototype presentation video, we see how Emma Lawton tries to draw a square with and without the clock. And that's where the emotional moment comes, when he realizes that, thanks to the weareable which bears his name, is able to perform for the first time in years an action that for those who do not suffer from the disease is so daily.

Microsoft wanted to make it clear that Emma is not a cure for Parkinson's (there is no known cure for the disease), but only a technological prototype that aims to help those who suffer from the disease to control the symptoms that prevent them from performing daily functions.

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