Bioengineering students at Rice University have developed a smartphone app that may help people with Parkinson’s disease to improve their walking gait. These patients are combating a common phenomenon known as freezing, in which the legs take random pauses contrary to how the brain wishes them to move. Because previous studies demonstrated that regular, repeating sounds and visual cues can help patients to develop a more regular stride, the Rice students decided to try to optimize this mechanism with a bit of technology.
The app uses augmented reality (AR) to create objects near the floor that are visible through the phone. The user steps through these virtual objects that appear regularly in front of the feet, which will hopefully help to develop a more natural walking style. There are also audio tones that can be activated that are designed to get a rhythm going.
Here’s video that gives a better idea of how the technology works: