If you've ever tried holding onto a spinning gyroscope, then you'll know how it "fights" you if you try to suddenly tip it over – that's why self-balancing motorcycles use gyroscopes to stay upright when stopped. Well, Imperial College London spinoff company GyroGear is utilizing that same principle in its new GyroGlove, which is designed to minimize hand tremors.
Company founder Faii Ong first came up with the idea when working in a London hospital, as part of a team that cared for a 103 year-old woman. Team members were initially mystified by her unexplained weight loss, until it was discovered that her severe hand tremors were simply keeping her from getting enough food into her mouth at meal times.
Ong thought of the gyroscopic toys from his childhood, along the current use of gyroscopes in fields such as aerospace, and thus the GyroGlove was born.
Currently in prototype form, the device incorporates an electric gyroscope that is mounted on the back of the hand via a harness. Once that gyro gets spinning, it holds the wearer's hand level. They can still move their hand around by intentionally exerting some effort, but it resists the movements caused by involuntary tremors.
In lab tests using a rig designed to replicate severe hand tremors, the prototype reportedly reduced those movements by over 80 percent.
The device is currently being developed specifically with Essential Tremor and Parkinson's Disease in mind, although it is hoped that it could ultimately be used to compensate for a wide range of conditions. Additionally, it will monitor the frequency of tremors, transmitting that data to a smartphone app for use by doctors.
Interested parties can sign up for updates via the first link below – the company plans to start taking orders by the end of this year, and to start shipping in early 2017.