Parkinson's Pen Vibrates to Improve Legibility
Parkinson’s disease causes tremors or stiffness that can turn everyday tasks such as eating, brushing teeth or writing into frustrating chores.
A few years ago a company called Liftware developed forks and spoons that respond to shaking by steadying the utensil, making it easier enjoy a meal.
Now researchers at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art in London are developing a device called the ARC pen that vibrates to stimulate muscles in the hand. The vibrations could help Parkinson's patients’ handwriting—in part by counteracting what’s known as micrographia, which causes writing to be small and barely legible. Micrographia is often an early sign of Parkinson’s and afflicts about five percent of patients.
The researchers, who formed a company called Dopa Solution, have not published results but they say that 12 out of the 14 Parkinson’s sufferers testing their vibrating prototype ARC pen were able to write larger, clearer characters than they could with a normal pen.
Dopa hopes to also develop tools, brushes and even computer mice that work like their pen. Not a cure, of course, but certainly a way to help users have a more satisfying life.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]