IBM Announced today that it has developed a small sensor sitting on the fingernail to help monitor the effectiveness of drugs used to combat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and other diseases. Along with the custom program that analyzes the data, the sensor measures how the screws are clogged during a user's grip on something. Since any activity involves objects that attract, this creates a lot of data for program analysis.
Another way to get this data is to connect a sensor to the skin and capture movement, as well as to correct the muscles and nerves in this way. The team notes that skin-based sensors can cause a lot of other problems, including infection, so I decided to consider using data from how to curl a person's fingernails instead.
For the most part, however, fingernails do not bend so much, so the sensor has to be somewhat sensitive. "It turns out that our fingernails are deformed – bending and moving – in typical ways when we use them to hold them, hold them together, even bend them and expand them," the researchers explain. This deformation is usually in a one-digit micron arrangement that is not visible to the naked eye. However, it can be easily detected with stress gauge sensors. For the context, the typical human hair ranges from 50 to 100 microns, and red blood cells are usually less than 10 microns.
In its current version, the researchers paste the prototype onto the nail. Since fingernails are very difficult, there is little risk of doing so, especially when compared to a sensor sitting on the skin. The sensor then talks to a smart clock that runs automated learning models to detect the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson's disease. This model can detect what wearers do (open the knob, using a screwdriver, etc.). The data and model are accurate enough to track when contractors are typing numbers with their fingers.
Over time, the team hopes to be able to expand this prototype and models that analyze the data to identify other diseases as well. There is no word about when this sensor can access the market, though.