Google Glass Helps Those With Parkinson's

I’ll be the first to admit it—Google Glass is a little weird. If you wear it, you look like a lost member of the Star Trek cast. Or else an extreme hipster. (Neither is exactly desirable.) But after receiving a $25,000 grant from Google, the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD has actually created software for Google Glass to be used by people with Parkinson’s Disease. While wearing the Glass, users can give the software commands, like “walk with me” or “warm me up.” A video appears, offering the user guidance on whatever activity he or she has selected. In the video below, Joy Esterberg, who takes class regularly via MMDG’s Dance for PD program, asks the Glass software to walk with her; a video of a woman walking—her back is to us—instantly plays, along with music to help Esterberg keep the beat. (A task as simple as walking, Esterberg says, becomes incredibly difficult with Parkinson’s; she describes it as “moving through mud.”) The music and the video instruction help her keep a steady pace.

The software is called Moving Through Glass. It’s still in beta, but the MMDG studio has 25 pairs available for Dance for PD students to try out. Check out Esterberg’s experience with it in the video below.

 

Teacher Voices
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I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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