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Microsoft shows off watch that quiets Parkinson's tremors

Microsoft shows off watch that quiets Parkinson's tremors

What can be called one of the most inspiring products shown off at the ongoing Microsoft Build 2017 conference is the Emma Watch.

The Emma Watch came into existence thanks to the efforts of Microsoft Research Innovation Director Haiyan Zhang.

Zhang is now working to take Project Emma to the next level.

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

With the Emma Watch, Zhang was able to help graphic designer Emma Lawton, who has Parkinson's, write and sketch again. Since more than 10 million people are suffering from this problem globally, this device will surely help them in facing this tremor.

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Inspired by other tools on the market (specifically a spoon that vibrates to counteract hand tremors), Zhang developed a sensor-laden wrist wearable.

Having previously created cutlery for disabled people that reacts to their movements to avoid spilling food, Zhang used that as a starting point.

"I'm trying to figure out a way to move this forward, because I've got hundreds of messages from people who want the device for themselves or their family members", Zhang told Microsoft. It does so by sending vibrations that cause Lawton's brain to focus on her right wrist, reducing the extra signals that cause muscle tremors.

For Lawton, a rhythmic vibration is effective, and it's controlled by a Windows 10 app.

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

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But along with all the other big announcements in its day one keynote, Microsoft also showcased a remarkable experimental project led by one of its researchers, which began when she met a young woman affected by hand tremors caused by Parkinson's disease.

Fortunately, Microsoft had a detailed blog post queued up for the curious.

"It's like injecting white noise into that feedback loop in order to disrupt it", Zhang said, with the pattern key to the device's success.

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

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