It is estimated
about ten million people live with Parkinson’s disease worldwide, a disease
caused by loss of nerve cells in the substantia nigra. Although it is not clear
what causes this loss of nerve cells, many believe it is a combination of
genetic and environmental factors. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s,
but symptoms can be controlled by restoring the level
of or imitating dopamine in the brain.
Symptoms are usually mild at first, and may not require any medication. However, doctors need to monitor the progression of the disease in order to start treatment as symptoms begin to affect function. Once on medication, it is essential to monitor the effectiveness of the drugs, whether or not to increase dosage or add another medication. As the disease progress, it gets increasingly difficult to accurately prescribe medications and monitor how effective they are.
OneRing is an intelligent wearable ring that monitor movement symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. The 3D-printed ring, equipped with a Bluetooth microchip, uses powerful machine learning algorithms and patent-pending signal processing engine to identify unique Parkinson’s movement patterns. It is able to detect movements like bradykinesia, dyskinesia and involuntary tremors in order to classify movement severities throughout the day.
With the accompanying iOS app, the collected data is analyzed and used to generate daily reports. The user is also able to view reports from previous days, to get a better overview of the progress of symptoms. The daily reports, with detailed analytics, is also sent to the user’s physician, giving them the opportunity to identify disease progress, alter or add medication, to better suit their patients’ needs.
Wearable technologies, whether it is for the treatment or management of a disease, can sometimes fail to understand the user. Although innovative, most find it stigmatizing to be identified as having a disease. It is private information only shared with someone you trust. However, a ring is small and with the right design, it could become unnoticeable. More importantly, it has the potential of significantly improving the life of Parkinson’s patients, improving doctor-patient communication, as well as physicians’ resource management. And as with digital health in general, it not necessarily the device itself that is the star, but the entire platform that empower the user.
OneRing is invented by high school student Utkarsh Tandon, who was struck by the way Muhammad Ali’s movement was affected by Parkinson’s disease, after watching a footage from the 1996 Olympics. After further research and the development of the ring, he is now running a Kickstarter campaign to fund his project. He is also looking to develop the ring further by changing its design to be less noticable, as well as using a flexible polymers material to make it one size fits all.