Microsoft's Project Emma is a wearable that helps with Parkinson's tremors

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Microsoft has created a watch that the company says can help people with Parkinson’s disease write more clearly. The Emma Watch sends vibrations to the brain that help control hand tremors. Microsoft unveiled the watch during its Build conference. It’s only a prototype for now, but it could represent a hopeful step forward in using wearable technology to help those with specific conditions.

Uncontrollable shaking is a common symptom of Parkinson’s, an incurable disease that affects more than 10 million people around the world and causes loss of motor control. The Emma Watch is named after Emma Lawton, a graphic designer with Parkinson’s who’s a friend of Microsoft Research innovation director Haiyan Zhang. Zhang created the watch especially for her. It 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.

Side-by-side comparison of Emma’s writing with and without the watch.
Photo: Microsoft

Lawton uses a rhythmic series of vibrations, but the pattern can be customized using an app on a Windows 10 tablet. Zhang wants to do more research into how AI and sensors can help with Parkinson’s. “The device doesn’t stop my tremor,” Lawton told Microsoft. “The writing, it’s not going to be perfect. But, my God, it’s better.”

Comments

This is amazing. Would like to see this tech go more mainstream.

One of the most REMARKABLE things I’ve seen in sometime.

So incredible. Hope this gets lots of attention. Props to Microsoft for focusing on impactful technology.

absolutely beautiful

Microsoft CEO keep talking about empowering people, just release the damn thing on github and you’ll empower people.

But instead we’ll probably never hear about it ever again…

Beautiful things like these is what technology should be for.

Mean while apple makes another I product.

Thuis was featured in a BBC programme "Big life fix" last year. You can see some clips here.

The video was quite emotional.

So cool. My mom has Parkinson’s and while her tremors are mostly under control from the meds, this would be nice to have anyways… especially for down the road.

I’d imagine this would also help with other tasks, like typing on a phone etc.

Same situation with my dad, if it can help him play music again that would be awesome.
It’s great to see developments that are not meds or DBS (since that is very invasive).

View All Comments
Back to top ↑