Two health technologies from the software giant are set to make the world ever more accessible.
A poignant video on the impact of tremors on one woman’s life formed the conclusion of Microsoft’s keynote session at IFA. Graphic designer Emma Lawton from the UK has Parkinson’s and experiences uncontrollable tremors, one of the main symptoms of the condition.
10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s and 60,000 people are diagnosed each year in the US alone. Tremor is one of the main symptoms.
Microsoft Research Innovation Director Haivan Zhang – a friend of Emma’s – created a prototype device especially for her to help combat her tremors. The device has small vibration motors that send signals to distract Lawton’s brain from trying to create the tremors. This helps calm the muscle movements and makes it easier to write — an important skill for a graphic designer.
Fittingly, the wearable device has been called “Emma” and it has helped stem Lawton’s symptoms. “It makes me forget that I have a tremor. The device doesn’t stop my tremor,” she said. “The writing, it’s not going to be perfect. But, my God, it’s better.”
Microsoft’s EVP, Windows & Devices Group, Terry Myerson outlined another interesting development, with the fact that Windows is set to become more accessible for those with Lou Gehrig’s disease – a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that impacts on the ability of the brain to control muscles: “The one muscle it doesn’t impact is your eyes; so with the Fall Creators update we’ve integrated this new functionality called Eye Tracking. It lets you type and operate your mouse using just your eyes. This is life-changing technology for those who are afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease. We’re so proud to now include it in the Fall Creators update. This is real advancement and accessibility that we are introducing to the world”
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Photo: Terry Myerson – Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft