Measuring Gait Speed Passively to Diagnose Diseases

You may not realize it, but how fast a person walks is an important indicator of overall health. We all instinctively know that we lag noticeably when a cold or the flu hits, but monitoring gait speed can help diagnose a plethora of chronic diseases and conditions. Wearables like Fitbit would be one way to monitor gait speed, but the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT thinks there’s a better way:  a wireless appliance that measures gait speed passively.

CSAIL’s sensor, dubbed WiTrack (PDF), is a wall-mounted plaque that could be easily concealed as a picture or mirror. It sends out low-power RF signals between about 5- and 7-GHz to perform 3D motion tracking in real time. The WiTrack sensor has a resolution of about 8 cm at those frequencies. With their WiGait algorithms (PDF), the CSAIL team led by [Chen-Yu Hsu] is able to measure not only overall walking speed, but also stride length. That turns out to be critical to predicting the onset of such diseases as Parkinson’s, which has a very characteristic shuffling gait in the early phase of the disease. Mobility impairments from other diseases, like ALS and multiple sclerosis, could also be identified.

WiTrack builds on [Hsu]’s previous work with through-wall RF tracking. It’s nice to see a novel technique coming closer to a useful product, and we’ll be watching to see where this one goes.

Continue reading “Measuring Gait Speed Passively to Diagnose Diseases”

Hackaday Prize Entry: Analyzing and Controlling Hand Tremors

For the millions of people suffering from Parkinson’s and other causes of hand tremor, there is new hope in the form of [mohammedzeeshan77]’s entry into the Hackaday Prize: a glove that analyzes and controls the tremors.

The glove uses an accelerometer and a pair of flex sensors to determine the position of the hand as it oscillates. A Particle Photon crunches the raw data to come up with the frequency and amplitude of the tremors and uploads it to the cloud for retrieval and analysis by medical staff.

Hand tremors can vary in frequency and severity depending on the cause. Some are barely perceptible movements, and others are life-disrupting shakes. By analyzing the frequency and amplitude of these tremors, doctors can better understand a patient’s condition.

The best part of this glove is that it also provides immediate relief to the wearer by stabilizing the hand. A rapidly spinning super precision gyroscope counteracts the tremor oscillations as it tries to maintain its position. The last time we saw innovation like this, it came with a set of attachments.

Self-stabilizing Spoon for People with Parkinson’s

Here’s a really cool story we just picked up — a gyroscopic steady-spoon, designed for people with Parkinson’s disease or other tremor inducing ailments.

The creator [Anupam Pathak] is close to people who suffer from tremors, and seeing the problem up close and personal, he set out to create a solution. He started the company called Liftware, and has so far released the Lift spoon. It features an embedded microchip, sensors and a few small motors. It’s capable of stabilizing tremors of up to 2 inches, which in several medical studies resulted in approximately a 70% tremor cancellation rate!

If you haven’t seen the effects of Parkinson’s on anyone, watch the video after the break. You’ll have your heart strings pulled a bit seeing how difficult eating can be, but then amazed at the ingenuity and effectiveness of the Lift Spoon. We can only imagine the paradigm shift this will be for people suffering from tremors.

Continue reading “Self-stabilizing Spoon for People with Parkinson’s”