March 5, 2016

The interplay of science and design, or, when designers, engineers and medics meet

Interdisciplinary collaborations can yield creative and inventive concepts and technologies that never would have been brought to life without such collaborative efforts. Indeed, the history of science and technology is abundant with examples of collaborative endeavors.In recent decades, inter- and cross-disciplinary collaborations reached out to new players in the research and development game – the designers. These new R&D collaborators have been warmly embraced by both academy (e.g. MediaLab at MIT, Wyss Laboratories at Harvard, D-School at Stanford, Imperial College and the Royal College of Art in London) and industry (including corporate behemoths such as Google, Philips, Microsoft and others around the globe).

One recent groundbreaking product stemming from a diverse team of medical doctors, designers and engineers is GyroGlove. This innovative glove was recently named a Millennial Trailblazer and promises to “restore independence and quality of life” to people suffering from Parkinson’s, Essential Tremor, and more. 

Inspired by aerospace technology, the concept of the glove couples gyroscopes to the hand of the user and instantaneously stabilizes the user’s tremor. With wearable technologies occupying a growing part of our lives, from allowing us to operate our phones through a wristwatch, to searching and reviewing information in hands free format, the thin and light weight characteristics of the GyroGlove technology will not stand out as out of the ordinary, to the person needing to wear said glove. As the glove has to respond in real time to wearer’s tremors, the challenge for engineers was clear but so was and still is the challenge for designers: how does one design a wearable tech that will incorporate the underlying complex electronic and mechanical components and yet remain a product that will not be cumbersome and be of real assistance to users without reducing their quality of life.

The technology has been said to be patent pending (not yet published) but might not be the first of its kind. Some have pointed out that attempts to patent similar inventions have been previously made, e.g. in US5,058,5711. It will be interesting to follow up and observe how and to what extent this technology will be protected. We believe that beyond patent protection, a comprehensive design protection will be essential to protect the glove’s aesthetic features.

Author: Dr. Maya Shmailov, Patent Attorney

 1 This has recently been pointed out by a commentator in an article on this subject; 

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This article is provided for general information only. It is not intended as legal advice or opinion and cannot be relied upon as such. Advice on specific matters may be provided by our group’s attorneys.

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