A spinning top inspired the GyroGlove, a hand-bound device that uses gyroscopes to reduce the effect of hand tremors. A prototype of the high-tech glove has reduced tremors by up to 90 percent and could be a miracle device for Parkinson’s disease patients.
GyroGlove is the brainchild of Faii Ong, who found motivation in the frustration he felt as a 24-year-old medical student caring for a 103-year-old Parkinson’s patient, according to MIT Technology Review. After watching her struggle to consume a bowl of soup, Ong asked a nurse if there was a way to help. He was told there wasn’t.
Two years later, Ong and his company, GyroGear, have a prototype of the GyroGlove. The device is essentially a glove with a small gyroscope attached to the back of the hand in a plastic casing. When the 200-gram, battery-powered GyroGlove is turned on, its “orientation is adjusted by a precession hinge and turntable, both controlled by a small circuit board, thereby pushing back against the wearer’s movements as the gyroscope tries to right itself,” according to MIT Technology Review.
The device was inspired by a simple childhood toy: the spinning top. “Mechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,” Ong says. “My idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a person’s hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand.”
Ong says wearing the GyroGlove “is like plunging your hand into thick syrup, where movement is free but simultaneously slowed.”
GyroGear will release an app to accompany the patent-pending GyroGlove, which will help track the progress of a patient’s tremors and calibrate the device. The startup also has plans to develop similar devices for other parts of the body.
There’s no set date for bringing the GyroGlove to market, but the company is accepting participants for ongoing trials.