Developing smartwatches to track symptoms of Parkinson’s

BY Charles Pulliam-Moore  August 15, 2014 at 3:18 PM EDT
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, in collaboration with Intel, is designing smartwatches using Intel's BASIS model, to monitor symptoms of the disease.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in collaboration with Intel, is designing smartwatches using Intel’s BASIS model, to monitor symptoms of the disease.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is teaming up with Intel to create wearable devices, such as smartwatches, designed to collect data about the symptoms caused by the neurodegenerative brain disease.

By measuring symptoms like balance, walking cadence, and tremors, the wearables will provide the research organization with a direct connection to study participants’ data 24/7. BASIS Science Inc., which Intel acquired in March, will produce the devices.

“Data science and wearable computing hold the potential to transform our ability to capture and objectively measure patients’ actual experience of disease,” explained Todd Sherer, chief executive of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

In the U.S., 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s annually, and there are no reliable means of pre-screening for the disease. Current studies that quantify Parkinson’s symptoms typically rely on patient self-reporting, the data for which can sometimes be unreliable.

“I pay attention to my Parkinson’s, but it’s not everything I am all the time,” said Bret Parker, who participated in a test run of the devices earlier this year. “The wearables did that monitoring for me in a way I didn’t even notice, and the study allowed me to take an active role in the process for developing a cure.”