Vibrating pen aims to help people with Parkinson's write more easily

Still in the testing phase, the ARC pen stimulates the muscles in the hand, making it easier for someone to move the pen and write more legibly.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

In an initial trial involving 14 people, the pen improved writing 86 percent of the time, according to the maker of the ARC. YouTube/screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

A new vibrating pen may be the key to improving the writing of people who have Parkinson's disease.

Fashioned by British design firm Dopa Solution, the ARC pen tries to resolve the motor control difficulties that Parkinson's patients run into when they write, according to a story published Monday by Wired UK. Specifically, many of those with Parkinson's suffer from a handwriting disorder known as micrographia. This condition leads to smaller and more cramped handwriting as the person continues to write.

"We heard stories of how frustrating it was for people who were still working, or who wanted to write a card, sign documents, anything that had to do with writing," ARC product designer Lucy Jung told Wired UK.

To combat micrographia, the ARC pen uses high-frequency vibration to stimulate the muscles in the hand. That makes it easier for someone to move the pen, which results in larger and clearer writing, according to Wired UK. The ARC pen is also thicker and better designed than the average pen, so people with Parkinson's can maintain a firmer and more comfortable grip on it.

In an initial trial involving 14 people with Parkinson's, the high-tech pen improved writing 86 percent of the time.

Right now, the ARC pen is still in the testing phase. But Dopa Solutions is seeking sponsors to help further its development. The company is also looking to apply its vibration technology to other products to assist those with Parkinson's.

"As our theory of using vibration works for other tools, it could be [used in] make-up tools, brushes, computer mice and other tools," Jung said.