The inventor, Haiyan Zhang, 39, hands over the box. Then she holds her breath.
Lawton, 33, smiles and tears open the wrapping paper. To her, the June day feels like a Christmas morning from childhood. Inside the box is a Windows 10 tablet in a pink, leopard-print case. “Oh, my God,” Lawton thinks, “it’s me.” That tablet is connected to a special Emma wristwatch, which Zhang gently places around Lawton’s right wrist.
Those losses inspired Zhang, a Microsoft researcher, to spend months studying Parkinson’s disease while building and testing prototypes that could, she hoped, temporarily short-circuit the hand tremors, allowing Lawton to write her own name again.Engraved on the watch is a name – “emma” – in breezy lettering that, to Lawton’s eyes, looks eerily similar to her own handwriting. Impossible, however. She’s been unable to write legibly for years due to hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. Lawton, a graphic designer, was diagnosed with the movement disorder in 2013, destroying her ability to do two things sacred to her: drawing letters and lines.