Category Archives: hardware

Emma – a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

 


The Emma Watch and a special Windows 10 tablet that controls it.

Engraved on the watch is a name – “emma” – in breezy lettering that, to Lawton’s eyes, looks eerily similar to her own handwriting. Impossible, however. She’s been unable to write legibly for years due to hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. Lawton, a graphic designer, was diagnosed with the movement disorder in 2013, destroying her ability to do two things sacred to her: drawing letters and lines.

Those losses inspired Zhang, a Microsoft researcher, to spend months studying Parkinson’s disease while building and testing prototypes that could, she hoped, temporarily short-circuit the hand tremors, allowing Lawton to write her own name again. That’s why the two women now huddle closely in Lawton’s London flat, staring at the only watch of its kind.

“There was a lot hanging in that moment. Would it work?” Lawton recalls later. “I could see she was scared. I felt like I was going to cry. But you always have that little hope that somebody is going to make something that’s going to make your life a little easier.”

Zhang presses a button on the tablet, activating the watch. Lawton puts pen to paper.

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Haiyan Zhang on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

Zhang was born in China. At age 9, she migrated with her parents to Australia where she was the only Asian child in her primary school, an oddity to classmates. As an outsider, the once vocal and confident girl lost her strong voice, and it took a l0ng time to find it again, she wrote in a blog. Eventually, in the world of technology, Zhang soared. She joined Microsoft in 2012, initially leading an innovation team in one of the Xbox gaming studios, excited by the tech potential for new forms of play.

“I was really excited to have someone so clever work on my challenge,” Lawton says. “She’s one of the smartest people I know.”

Lawton was born in Bedfordshire, a county in the east of England. She dreamed of acting but ultimately fell in love with design, pursuing that as a career. By her late 20s, Lawton’s right arm began to have “a mind of its own,” she wrote in her book, “Dropping the P Bomb.” Parkinson’s was the cause. Hand tremors, which Lawton describes as sometimes “going whole hog,” are a primary symptom of her progressive disease – one that affects more than 10 million in the world.

“Emma’s the real inspiration in terms of how she’s managing this condition and succeeding,” Zhang says. “It’s challenging enough being a woman in technology in the workplace. For her to take on this additional challenge, it’s amazing to me.”
As they got to know one another, the question became: Could Zhang’s tech skills help alleviate Lawton’s loss of writing function?

 

Curated by Lifekludger. Source: ‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease – Transform

How a Smart Home Empowers People with Disabilities

While advances in personal technology continue at a rapid pace, at times their designers seem to forget about the population that could perhaps benefit from it the most. Stabelfeldt says just the ability to charge a phone with a wheelchair didn’t even exist until a few years ago.

But features like Apple’s “Home” app allow Stabelfeldt to control a variety of smart accessories in his house — from door locks and window shades, to lights and his garage door. The best part for Stabelfeldt? He can command Apple’s intelligent digital assistant Siri to work it all.


A Game Changer
“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure our products are as accessible as possible for all users,” said Apple’s Sarah Herrlinger. She has worked at Apple for nearly 14 years and is their Senior Manager of accessibility policy and initiatives.

“For some people, doing something like turning on your lights or opening a blind or changing your thermostat might be seen as a convenience, but for others, that represents empowerment, and independence, and dignity,” she told NBC News.

“HomeKit and Switch Control and Siri have given me a lot of value and a lot of opportunities to demonstrate that I’m a quality man and I’m a man of integrity,” Todd Stabelfeldt. “To get up every day and go to work: Everybody’s valuable, everybody has worth, everybody should have the opportunity to demonstrate it.”

Emerging tech aims to improve life for handicapped

Emerging technology is giving new hope for the handicapped, and harnessing brainwaves for the physically disabled and helping the visually impaired with “artificial vision” are just the start.

Many systems showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are aimed at improving quality of life for people with disabilities.

BrainRobotics, a Massachusetts-based startup, showed its prosthesis that can be controlled by residual muscle strength of an amputee with better efficiency than similar devices, according to developers.

Over time the group wants to use technology from its sister company BrainCo to harness brain waves for improved function. BrainCo already markets a headband which helps identify patterns of brain waves to help improve focus and treat children with learning disabilities.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Emerging tech aims to improve life for handicapped

Apple brings AirPod-style streaming, Live Listen accessibility to MFi hearing aids

 

Apple has enhanced its iOS accessibility features for users with hearing impairments, adapting its enhanced Bluetooth-based streaming to Made For iPhone hearing aids while introducing Live Listen, a feature that uses an iPhone’s mic to focus on conversations in loud environments.

 

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Apple brings AirPod-style streaming, Live Listen accessibility to MFi hearing aids