Microsoft hasn’t been short of new patent ideas recently, but this latest one could be huge for certain people. A patent application has shown Microsoft has looked into the possibility of wearable technology being used to help manage the symptoms of involuntary movements commonly suffered by those with Parkinson’s disease or a variety of other disorders.
Microsoft envisions such a device as consisting of several haptic actuators placed around a wearable band. The device would be able to receive data from a nearby device like a phone or a tablet via a Bluetooth connection, which could then be used to customize the device’s responses and usage. These motors would likely be able to move along the band, making it possible to physically customize the band to suit an individual’s needs.
One part of the patent application theorizes that the haptic actuators could be used in a therapeutic role, using stimulation to cut down on involuntary movements. “The wearable device may be worn close to a joint and used to affect (e.g. reduce or stabilize) involuntary movement of the joint or limb,” says the patent filing.
Alternatively, the wearable could detect unwanted movements and work with other connected devices to reduce their impact. The patent describes an example where a wrist-based wearable could work with a touch-based device with a stylus to detect and reduce the impact of such movements by either using the haptic actuators to reduce the movement, or by using device-based sensors to help correct any erroneous movements.
While that sort of device would not directly help to prevent tremors and involuntary movements, it may work in a similar way to devices like the Gyenno Spoon, which stabilizes unwanted motions, and helps sufferers to live an easier life.
An important part of the patent is Microsoft’s insistence that such a device would not be limited in form, and could be reduced to a small patch placed on specific areas, or could be integrated into clothing items like stockings or sleeves. Being able to blend such technology in with everyday life would be an important part of such a device, and it would likely dictate its success in the mass market.
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