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Intel wants to track Parkinson's patients using wearables

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It's not hard to find a wearable device that can track your activity at all hours of the day, but aggregating that data from large groups of people has proven to be a more difficult task. So much so that a number of big technology companies including Apple, Samsung, and Google are now trying to help people harness data into something meaningful. Now you can add Intel to the list. Today the company announced a partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research that aims to track and analyze those with Parkinson's disease using wearable devices. The hope is to better monitor patterns and pick up on symptoms while potentially shedding more light on the disease to work on a cure.

1GB of data per person, each day

The plan involves the creation of an app that will let patients record how they're feeling as well as log any medication they're taking. That will coincide with various activity data that's being tracked using wearables, which Intel estimates will be about 1GB per device, per day. "With this approach, researchers could go from looking at a very small number of data points and burdensome pencil-and-paper patient diaries collected sporadically to analyzing hundreds of readings per second from thousands of patients and attaining a critical mass of data to detect patterns and make new discoveries," Intel said in a blog post announcing the partnership.

The company's already tested out the plan at a smaller scale using 16 Parkinson's patients and nine volunteers that were part of a control group, all of whom were wearing Pebble watches during a four-day test. Using these devices, Intel hopes to record things like tremors, sleep patterns, gait, and balance at what is says is a rate of "more than 300 observations per second."

The project is not entirely out of the blue for Intel. Early employee and former CEO Andy Grove was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000 and joined Fox's Foundation a year later. Since then, he's become an advisor there and donated millions to research efforts, including a $40 million potion of his estate. Intel says it will have a version of the app out later this year alongside a study that will make use of the wearable devices.