Google Glass promising as assistive aid for Parkinson's patients

Researchers at Newcastle University (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England) are investigating Google Glass—a liquid-crystal display (LCD)-based wearable computer that is voice-operated and Internet-enabled—as an assistive aid to help people with Parkinson’s disease extend their independence.

Related: Highly sensitive fluorescence probe to evaluate potential risk for Parkinson’s disease and monitor its progression

Initial studies by the research team—who are based in the University’s Digital Interaction Group in Culture Lab, part of the School of Computing Science—have focused on the acceptability of Google Glass. Led by Dr. John Vines, PhD student Roisin McNaney, and Dr. Ivan Poliakov, the team has been working with a group of Parkinson’s volunteers aged 46-70.

Now, the researchers are working on the next stage of the project, using the technology to provide discreet prompts linked to key behaviors typical of Parkinson’s, such as reminding the individual to speak up or to swallow to prevent drooling. Google Glass can also be used as a personal reminder for things such as medication and appointments. The team will also be exploring how the motion sensors in Google Glass can be used to support people with "freezing," a common Parkinson's behavior caused by motor blocking.

The researchers will present their initial findings at the ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2014 conference, to be held April 26 through May 1, 2014, in Toronto, ON, Canada. For more information, please visit http://di.ncl.ac.uk/publications/McNaney_et_al_AcceptabilityGlassParkinsons.pdf.

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