Sunday, April 27, 2014

Google Glass: For People With Parkinson's Disease?

Woman wearing google glass

Wearable technology has gained a lot of momentum in the last year or so. The most popular, or should we say notorious, wearable tech that has come out is Google Glass, which has received both praise and backlash from different groups because of all the things that it can do. Taking pictures, making videos, sending emails, finding directions, setting reminders - everything can be done with just a few voice commands or gestures. While society debates whether or not Google Glass should be allowed to be worn everywhere, there is a group of researchers that is busy making Google Glass extremely useful for people with a certain disease - Parkinson's.

Since Parkinson's causes shaking/tremors,  sudden stiffness of limbs , posture instability, "freezing" besides mood swings and cognitive changes, scientists at Newcastle University are exploring various ways to see how Google Glass can be used to help people with Parkinson's, thus providing workarounds to live a life that's not constantly hampered by symptoms that ultimately bring down confidence levels in the person dealing with them.

One area that's being looked at is setting reminders. Since patients are required to take medication everyday and on time, Google Glass can easily send regular reminders to the patient reminding that they should take their medication. Reminders would not only tell them when to take their medication but how/ with what (water; food - different combinations at different times of day).  Similar discrete reminders can be sent to the patient to remind them to swallow their drool - a common problem with people with Parkinson's disease because of lack of motor control. 

Another common symptom is freezing, where the patient just gets stuck and is unable to walk. In such cases, the patient would want to call someone who could come get them, but calling on a phone with a touch screen can become a big hassle for someone with not so good motor skills. Google Glass can be helpful in such situations because someone can be easily called by just using voice commands. Since it is always connected to the Internet, friends and carers will be easily able to see where the patient is, and would come and get them.

Google glass also has maps and directions. If someone is out and about, chances of them getting lost are minimal because Glass displays turn by turn directions too, thus providing relief to not just the patient but also family and friends.

This video shows the researchers tell us in detail about their research:


The research is still at its very early stages, but what the volunteers with Parkinson's, who helped test Google Glass, say is remarkable. They are happy with what they experienced, and they thought that Glass really helped them control symptoms and live a normal life. Hit the source link to read their testimonial. 

Let's hope we get to hear more about this research in the future!

Source: Newcastle University via Gizmodo
Image source: Ubergizmo

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