Pebble App detects epileptic seizures and texts a warning
One of the great characteristics of the Pebble smartwatch system is the open nature of the operating system, and the loyal user and developer base. This allows Pebble users to do things with their smartwatch that simply cannot be achieved with other watches. It also allows developers to move quickly to create something that doesn’t exist in the wild. Such was the case recently with Ryan Clark, a games developer from Vancouver, Canada.
Ryan’s wife, Kathryn suffers from epilepsy which had been under control for years. Then, in 2014, she suffered a tonic-clonic seizure (otherwise known as a “grand-mal” seizure). Ryan had the idea to use a smartwatch to detect the type of movement present in a seizure, and to text him when such a seizure occurs. “I realized it should be possible, and took a week off work to throw this thing together.”, said Ryan.
Ryan chose the Pebble smartwatch because of its open-source nature, and the fact that one can be bought for $100 or less. He then set about watching YouTube videos of people having seizures. He wore a Pebble watch while mimicking the seizures to spot rhythmic movements in the frequency range normally associated with seizure sufferers. He then compared this data to scientific literature, and created functionality to the wearer’s phone. The wearer then has fifteen seconds to turn the alarm off before emergency text messages are sent to designated contacts.
Ryan warned that there definitely exists the potential for false positives. “Brushing your teeth is almost exactly the same frequency and strength as having a seizure, it will definitely pick that up.” Equally, if the sufferer is lying on their watch arm, it could miss real seizures. However, having this application on the Pebble has given them an increased sense of security and peace of mind.
The application also has a “Panic” button which the wearer can use to alert people when they feel a seizure coming on.
We applaud Ryan for putting the emerging smartwatch technology to such use. Keep up the good work!
(Images Ryan Clark)