Parkinson’s is a neurological condition that interferes with a person’s ability to control fine muscle movements. This means that hand tremors, or other visible forms of shaking, cannot be finely controlled by someone with Parkinson’s. Student Faii Ong noticed this when he was helping a person with Parkinson’s trying to eat, and he decided to find a way to help.
Ong has designed a complex glove made of simple ideas that helps people with Parkinson’s control hand tremors. It all comes down to gyroscopes and cleverness.
Together with a number of other students from Imperial College London, Ong worked in the universityâ€™s prototyping laboratory to run numerous tests. An early prototype of a device, called GyroGlove, proved his instinct correct. Patients report that wearing the GyroGlove, which Ong believes to be the first wearable treatment solution for hand tremors, is like plunging your hand into thick syrup, where movement is free but simultaneously slowed. In benchtop tests, the team found the glove reduces tremors by up to 90 percent.
GyroGloveâ€™s design is simple. It uses a miniature, dynamically adjustable gyroscope, which sits on the back of the hand, within a plastic casing attached to the gloveâ€™s material. When the device is switched on, the battery-powered gyroscope whirs to life. Its orientation is adjusted by a precession hinge and turntable, both controlled by a small circuit board, thereby pushing back against the wearerâ€™s movements as the gyroscope tries to right itself.