A patent application filed by Microsoft has shown the company has looked into the possibility of wearable technology being used to help manage the symptoms of involuntary movements commonly suffered by people with Parkinson’s or a host of other disorders, reports Digital Trends. The wearable band would wrap around limbs or joints and use haptic feedback for therapeutic stimulation.
The device would have many haptic actuators scattered across a band that can be adjusted in response to sensor data, according to the patent. That data could come from sensors on the wearable itself or a nearby tablet or phone that communicates with it over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
The patent titled “WEARABLE DEVICE” was filed by Microsoft and was published by USPTO.
“Haptic stimulation systems apply forces or vibrations to stimulate a user’s sense of touch. Touch-screen devices may use haptic feedback to indicate key presses to a user; games controllers may use haptic feedback to increase video game immersion (e.g. by vibrating in response to a collision or explosion within a video game) and smart watches may use haptic feedback to provide silent alerts to the wearer,” says Microsoft in the patent.
The embedded sensors could include heart-rate sensors, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and electromyography sensors for detecting muscle activity. On the other hand, sensors outside the wearable could include a touchscreen or imaging system that detects motion, or motion detectors in a stylus, reports ZDNet.
The patent application further notes, “Described herein is a wearable device which uses haptic actuation for therapeutic stimulation and in various examples, the wearable device may be word close to a joint and used to affect (eg reduce or stabilize) involuntary movement of the joint or limb. The wearable device described herein may be used to alleviate some symptoms of a condition which affects motion or control of the limbs and one example is Parkinson’s disease.”
When a company files for a patent, it has no idea whether it's actually going to use the invention. Many of these patents see the light of day. Therefore, it can’t be said with certainty that Microsoft will launch this wearable.