This paragraph reads like the solution is not as simple as strapping a vibrator to a wristband. So where are those results documented? Does anyone have an idea where the source code and schematics are for the singular Emma device prototype?
Edit: I have not been able to find source code yet. A reddit thread about the device  from December 2016 links to a screenshot  of a BBC documentary from which one can infer that Zhang used six motors for the Emma device and timed them in a specific way.
Edit 2: I noticed that my other HN comment  asking if this article is a PR submarine was first upvoted until it was shown at the top of the thread. It was then downvoted until it moved to the bottom of the thread. If a HN mod is reading this: Does that voting pattern seem normal?
Edit 3: Now this comment is also receiving downvotes?
Edit 4: The BBC has a GitHub repository containing other code related to the documentary. There has been an issue opened in January 2017  from a person who wants to help his father who has Parkinson's. No source code seems to have been released since then.
She is defying years and years of experience by a large number of experts in the field, this just does not sound realistic.
Why is this 'breakthrough' presented as the effort of an individual? The only reason I can think of is that MS is trying to show the world what Good People they are, and showing the long and hard work of a large team of engineers is just not sexy.
Frankly weird that if this simple technique has already bee n discovered, i don't see why this tech hasn't been mass-produced already. seems like a no-brainer.
Assuming this device works, it is fun to think about why this might be. All I could extract from the article is that it sends vibrations and fails for some, requires randomness in others and works at a specific pattern for Lawton.
I am not an expert but what I do know is that Parkinson's can be viewed as a breakdown in the proper transmission of feedback from erroneous predictions. In planning movements, the brain is constantly making and correcting its predictions, sufficient damage to part of this circuit would result in improper gain modulation and ineffective dampening to prevent overshoots. Improper cost predictions might even affect motivation to perform a movement in the first place.
It's not clear how a pattern of vibration might lead to a reduction in symptoms. My best guess is that it's related to stochastic resonance. The noise or pattern from the vibrations, and that the population of neurons responding to the vibrations are different enough might be such that, whatever weak signal there is carrying the proper feedback is now more readily decoded. Whether or not this device works will likely be highly variable, dependent on the state of degradation and particulars of the erroneous feedback control.
I will probably not respond to further comments about those downvotes, as it seems off-topic; dang has already commented extensively regarding previous astroturfing accusations against Microsoft :
> If MS "infiltrated" HN, it's news to me and I'd like to know about it. If anybody did anything to HN that could fairly be described as "infiltration", we'd be pissed. It's our job to protect the integrity of this place for the community and we take it seriously. When we see gaming and manipulation we crack down on it hard. But actually the BigCos aren't the ones who do such things, probably because they're (rightly) too risk-averse.
dang has also commented that there is no special status for Microsoft on HN.
Other controversial opinion: I've seen several examples of tech projects led by women where the reporting is couched much more from the human interest angle than a tech angle, and worst, questioning the tech in question can be met with accusations of sexism. I think this does a great disservice to women in tech by assuming a less critical bar.
As for examples, Elizabeth Holmes is probably the most well known one, but another one that was kind of fascinating to me at the time was Grace Choi and her "Mink" make-up printer. The printer as advertised was basically non-existent, but articles were universally laudatory and many lambasted men who questioned the tech for "just not getting it." I'm not arguing that is going on here, but without an explanation of what's actually going on, and comparisons to other similar technologies, this is just a puff piece.
I have definitely seen the pattern where something I say initially gets downvoted, or upvoted, then the reverse happens later. It seems at a minimum that there might be a difference between the populations of people who read a story soon after it's posted and long after it's posted. It wouldn't surprise me if different sorts of comments appeal to these different groups, and that's ignoring the content of replies.
Personally I would suggest not worrying about it too much, and doing your best to make comments that seem good to you. For a long time, I actually had a userscript that eliminated the fading style that gets applied to comments, and also hid karma and points. In some ways, that makes using the site a little less stressful, because you can worry a bit less about what others think.
Edit: this comment is a good example of one that initially received several upvotes, but is now negative. ;)
Expecting publication of source code from a researcher seems appropriate to me. From another article about the “Emma device” :
> Haiyan has no plans to commercialize the technology, but hopes other researchers will take on the project and run with it. “I think it warrants more trials,” she noted. “It definitely works for Emma. I’m amazed how well it works for her.”
How can others improve on her work when it is not published? To me it looks like this invention is milked for PR as much as possible, while details about implementation are scarce. That device helps only one person right now, while potential is there to help a lot of people.
Hello Hayan Zhang,
I have read several articles about the “Emma device” you have built, but
could not find any details. Have you published source code & schematics?
The BBC has a GitHub repository for code related to the documentary. The
one open issue on it is from a person who wants to help their father who
has been affected by Parkinson's <https://github.com/bbc/MiD/issues/3>:
> I am hoping to design a similar item to help my father with both
> writing, and potentially in continuing other activities that his
> Parkinson's is starting to inhibit, and while the Big Life Fix episode
> covering it gave some hints at the details, there wasn't that much
> concrete information.
In a Reddit thread, other people also want to know how the “Emma device”
works and built it for their relatives who are afflicted by Parkinson's:
Since you seem to have zero interest in commercializing your findings, I
do not understand why the information on the details seems hard to find.
Have you published something (like a scientific article) on the subject?
Parkinson's patients sometimes have tremors, but all tremors are not Parkinson's. The physiological explanation of Parkinson's "firing off wrong signals to muscles" is not correct.
Parkinson's disease is defined primarily by bradykinesia and limb rigidity - the difficulty of the motor planning part of the brain processing motor commands to the motor cortex. Much of the disability in Parkinson's disease comes from a patient's brain not being able to come up with motor commands fast enough, resulting in wooden, statue-like movement and gait instability (i.e. coming up with motor commands fast enough to maintain upright balance).
Of interest - while tremors (i.e. essential tremors, action tremors, rubral tremors) can limit function, the interesting part of Parkinsonian tremors are that the vast majority of them are "resting tremors," i.e. they go away with action and thus are not the limiting factor of writing. Most Parkinson's patients complain, rather, of the bradykinesia (motor command issues) causing micrographia, or excessively small and unreadable handwriting.
Anyway, I am not sure what diagnosis Emma actually has - it may be what is known as a "tremor predominant" Parkinson's disease (which overlaps a bit with essential tremor, another neurological movement disorder). It may very well be essential tremor. Or it may be a dystonic tremor which responds, bizarrely, to weird sensory cues, i.e. "gestes antagonistes". If the watch with its vibrating counterweights works for her, great. For most of our Parkinson's patients, it doesn't solve their main issue which is the inability to move or walk, or at least do so well.
Not to mention the cognitive deficits in Parkinson's disease which is a whole other can of worms.
Of note: Parkinsonian and essential tremors respond extremely well to implantable deep brain stimulators...that is a whole other topic as well.
TBH there seems to be a ton of "wearables" ideas flooding the poster sessions of the last few Movement Disorders Congresses, but honestly, these all either a) focus on tremor tracking to the exclusion of everything else and thus totally misses the main point of Parkinson's, or b) pour a ton of money onto custom hardware and electronics, yet can't really accomplish more than what you get with a fitbit or Apple Watch,
It's worth watching, it's very emotional watching her try and write with the watch on for the first time.
This is incredibly exciting work.
Vibrating shoes have been shown to be useful for helping elderly populations avoid falls; their diminished sensory acuity makes it hard for them to feel the differential pressure which indicates that they are starting to fall, but adding noise results in the sensory threshold being crossed.
I'd presume that the muscle overstimulation which causes characteristic twitching/jerking is being suppressed by improved sensation of pressure.
Look how amazingly (immediately) effective it is:
Applications are for both monitoring medication intake and as a precursor for early diagnosis.
The next thing I expect along these lines is 3-D printing of human organs.
I would've expected the hash cruft to be ignored.
Or I have to go to psychiatrist especially considering I have symptoms of BPD.
I did :)
It'd be nice if someone who could handle it wrote a TL;DR for us.
Except that Microsoft used to collect 2 billion dollars in patents from Linux based product vendors. They totally "<3" open source.
Also I'm not sure why you think it's suspicious that this was written about before. It's an amazing result and clearly it didn't happen overnight so there were earlier opportunities for a writeup.
This style of writing is very frustrating.
1. Introduction. We set up for something dramatic. In this case, a Parkinson's sufferer is about to see her life changed. In another recent story, a maternity nurse is about to birth her first child, and we were teased she would die after giving birth. Now we're at the moment of truth. All we have to do is...
2. CUT TO BACKSTORY. When X and Y first met in 1997, they were first drawn to each other by a shared love of whatever. Eventually, their travels led them to find out...
3. DEEP BACKSTORY. When X was 9 years old, she found a thing that immediately interested her. She kept at it because...
4. FAMILY BACKSTORY. Her grandfather fought in WWII/Korea/Vietnam for the US/British/Japanese/Australian army, and he tinkered on the side in whatever endeavor X would go on to work in...
5. MAIN TOPIC. And we get a paragraph or two of what we originally were interested in reading about, but not before...
6. CUT TO ORIGINAL BACKSTORY. Flesh it out a bit more. Finish it out. College, grad school, first job, moved across the country, landed current job. And now, finally...
7. NOT SO FAST. Let's finish out the grandfather's story, and his reaction when he learned what X was working on. Ok, now...
8. BACK TO THE ORIGINAL STORY ITSELF. And we get the five last paragraphs, which could just be joined with the first 3 paragraphs to tell the entire story. But then we woudn't hit our word count.
I just wanted to learn how this bracelet works. With that other article, I just wanted to know how the nurse died. Do I need to be teased for 27 paragraphs?
When I want to learn facts, I want to read something structured like a 9th grade essay.
I couldn't stand it. After the introduction, I started scrolling, saw the general structure and just closed it.
It was the most unpleasant text I looked at in a very long time.
You probably spent those two minutes writing your post.
The article is teasing the reader. It could have easily explained the basics of the device in one or two sentences at the top. The two main questions the reader has are "Does this work?" and "How does this work?" The writer is just being cute by not getting those answers out of the way.
That said, there's a key difference between "This style of writing is very frustrating." and "I find this style of writing very frustrating." From reading other comments in this thread, the story appealed to them. What comes across to you as "the writer … just being cute" is engaging writing to others. As currently written, your critical analysis of why you find the journalistic style frustrating comes off as a rant, which doesn't contribute constructively to discussion on HN.
Also, your comment seems to try to differentiate as to whether an opinion should begin with "I think" (specifically, "I find"), which is a suggestion of poor writing form.
Had you followed your own advice, your last sentence might read "As currently written, your critical analysis of why you find the journalistic style frustrating comes off as a rant, which ^I don't feel contributes^ constructively to discussion on HN." I think you'll agree that those words are as wasteful here as they would have been in khazhoux's comment.
The article was tech-bait.
The story, or the writing style? I also upvoted the story, because I'm not going to punish it for the shit writing. And I actually dislike that the topmost comment, which I agree to from the bottom of my heart, is about the style; but the very fact that it's at the top means that maybe even more people find it just as annoying.
As for the style, I couldn't find it here. Is there a name for it?
I always wish these blog posts were written like this:
Maybe it is about how "engagement" gets measured, and having people jump through hoops is more profitable than valuing their time and their own decisions about how deep they want to delve?
If it was, people would read the first paragraph, move on, and then complain that they wasted their money in buying whatever newspaper/magazine they're reading.
> If it was, people would read the first paragraph, move on, and then complain that they wasted their money in buying whatever newspaper/magazine they're reading.
If this blog post was written in a way that isn't scatterbrained, people would complain about the money they wasted on "whatever newspaper/magazine they're reading"? I think the word I'm looking for here is "no".
HN is supposed to be about gratifying intellectual curiosity (explicitly in the guidelines). Romance novels, talking animals, and run-of-mill human interest pieces don't belong.
You can't downvote submissions, and the post wasn't flag worthy (i.e., spam or off-topic).
> A new watch-like device has changed that: Strapped on Lawton’s wrist, it counteracts the tremors through vibration.
> You probably spent those two minutes writing your post.
Let's spent two years linking to that comment under every article it applies to.
Why not give us what we were baited with, and then put more backstory below for those interested? Instead it's just a jumbled mess, paragraphs just jumping all over the place.