One of the most bothersome things about Parkinson’s Disease is when it forces your handwriting to become tiny and unreadable, even when you try your darnedest to make it look larger.
A new vibrating pen helps overcome this disorder, which is called micrographia and is one of the earliest symptoms common to almost all Parkinson’s patients. Called “ARC”, the pen improved writing in 86% of cases.
Created by Dopa Solution, the pen uses high-frequency vibrating motors to stimulate muscles in the hand to address the progressively smaller, more cramped handwriting.
Keith Welton, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, was one of 14 people with micrographia in the original tests of the ARC prototype.
He noticed a marked difference immediately. Without the pen, he said, no matter how hard he would fight to keep his writing large, “I’d end up with virtually a straight line.” The ARC to him, was like magic.
“I started with very big writing, for some reason that I can’t explain,” he said in the Dopa video, before chuckling at the results. “It just went large.”
The thick, ergonomic design of ARC makes it easy to hold. It also rests in a recharging stand when not in use so users don’t have to struggle with replacing batteries.
And this may be the first in a whole series of tools for people affected by Parkinson’s, designed by this team of mechanical engineering and design students from the Royal College of Art, Imperial College London.
“As our theory of using vibration works for other tools,” Jung told wired.co.uk. “It could be [used in] make-up tools, brushes, computer mice and other tools.”
The pen is still a prototype and the team is looking for funders, manufacturers and distributors for further development.
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