In an effort to compile more data on Parkinson's disease, Intel and the Michael J. Fox Foundation are teaming up on an app for wearable tech to passively collect data from individuals who battle the condition.

With data on Parkinson's usually reported during consultations with doctors, the Intel Basis smart watch and a companion app will collect data from people who have the neurodegenerative brain disease while the individuals focus on other elements of their lives. It is diagnosed in around 60,000 Americans per year.

"Wearables can unobtrusively gather and transmit objective, experiential data in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," states Intel. "With this approach, researchers could go from looking at a very small number of data points and burdensome pencil-and-paper patient diaries collected sporadically to analyzing hundreds of readings per second from thousands of patients and attaining a critical mass of data to detect patterns and make new discoveries."

Intel says the wearable tech will collect metrics on individuals with Parkiness such as tremors, quality of sleep and pace of movement. The objective collection of data will be a change from the subjective approaches that have been used for nearly two centuries now, according to Todd Sherer, chief executive of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

"Nearly 200 years after Parkinson's disease was first described by Dr. James Parkinson in 1817, we are still subjectively measuring Parkinson's disease largely the same way doctors did then," says Sherer. "Data science and wearable computing hold the potential to transform our ability to capture and objectively measure patients' actual experience of disease, with unprecedented implications for Parkinson's drug development, diagnosis and treatment."

Intel says it hopes the wearable tech and software will soon have the ability to collect data on an individual's genome and record results from clinical trials. From there, Intels says it hopes the platform will someday leverage analytics and machine learning to create predictive models that could track the development of Parkinson's disease symptoms in people.

"The answers are within us," says actor Michael J. Fox. "We just need to find a way to let people into our brains both literally and figuratively, to help us figure this out."

Intel data scientists monitored a small group of pilot patients at two clinic visits and continuously for four days, then correlated the data collected to clinical observations and patient diaries to gauge the devices' accuracy. From that, they will develop algorithms to measure symptoms and disease progression. Later this year, Intel and the foundation plan to launch a mobile app that lets patients report their medication intake as well as how they are feeling. The effort is part of the next phase of the study to enable medical researchers to study the effects of medication on motor symptoms via changes detected in sensor data from wearable devices.

Intel and the foundation's data collection platform is just another example of how vital technology is to health care.

The critical link between health and tech isn't lost on Apple, as leaks about that the tech firm's upcoming HealthKit indicate how the company plans to centralize electronic data into one place.

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