Microsoft wove together several real-life use cases into powerful stories that helped to shape the company's vision of the future while also helping contribute to the engineering pursuits displayed at this year's developer's conference, Build 2017.
Haiyan Zhang, innovation director at Microsoft Research, said that Lawton's input into making the watch was very important.
Then she realized she was able to write again and she was absolutely jubilant about the whole thing. "Brain surgery can help control movement symptoms but isn't successful for everyone, and those who go under the knife will still need to take medication", writes Andrew Trotman, Head of News at Microsoft UK. This would be an extension of the original Emma Watch project but could be quite an impactful piece of work.
"It's still a surprise to me when my handwriting comes out the other side of it".
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According to Zhang, Lawton's bracelet wirelessly communicates with a tablet app that Lawton can program to vibrate in specific patterns that interfere with her tremors. The Emma watch is a wrist-worn device that significantly reduces the nearly constant limb tremors associated with Parkinson's. The device sends vibrations to Lawton's brain forcing it to focus on her right wrist. A world of difference lies between the illegible handwriting before putting on the watch and the legible writing that was the result afterwards. However, now the real challenge is to this project further so that it could help more people.
As a comparison of Emma's writing without the watch and with it shows, it's not flawless but it is much better.
While the watch titled Emma is by no means a cure for the disease, it does manage the symptoms so that a patient with Parkinson's can write legibly with its help. Microsoft said that "she sometimes worked in her London home, soldering wires to PC boards and tinkering with coin cell motors to create vibrations".
Microsoft said that Zhang's team is additionally "developing a project called Fizzyo, a connected device for kids with Cystic Fibrosis that turns their daily physiotherapy exercises into a video game experience".