One dangerous aspect of Parkinson's Disease is the impeded ability to walk, which causes people to fall and injure themselves. A team of Singaporean students is hoping to use technology to prevent such accidents.
PD Loggers, a group of three students at the National University of Singapore, has invented an Internet-connected device that tracks a person's movements, detects when the walking problem, known as freezing of gait, is about to kick in and then helps prevent a fall. This week, the invention won the Invent 50 competition, a Singapore-wide student tech-invention contest sponsored by electronics giant Intel.
The device consists of three sensors, which are placed on each ankle and at the back of the neck, that work together to acquire data on a person's walking patterns. The team created an algorithm that runs on an Intel Edison chip and analyzes the wearer's gait cycle. When the device senses a fall is imminent, it vibrates vigorously to warn the person and applies biofeedback techniques to attempt to re-initiate movement.
Parkinson's Disease is caused by the deterioration of neurons, which hampers the movement of dopamine out of the brain. This leads to stuttering, impaired movement and other physical maladies. The affliction is incurable. According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, more than 10 million people around the world have the disease.
The student team took five months to develop the device and assert that it is nearly market-ready. For now, the group intends to continue R&D on the device. Winning the Invent 50 competition scored the team 10,000 Singapore dollars ( $7,000, AU$10,000, £4,500) and internships with Intel.