A new free app makes iPads easier to use for people with tremors

A new free app called Staybl uses technologies in the iPad to make it easier to use for those dealing with involuntary hand tremors due to conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

The global advertising firm Havas Creative’s New York and Germany offices created the app after two years of working with experts from the German Parkinson’s Association and Parkinson’s patients in Germany and the United States.

Their goal is to improve access to technology for those dealing with Parkinson’s disease and other health issues that cause tremors. Although the app is currently only available for use on Apple’s iPad, its creators aim to port it to other digital devices and platforms in the future.

“We always talk about how technology can improve our lives, but we don’t naturally include everyone in those benefits,” said Eric Schaffler, chief creative officer of Havas in Germany. “Stabel is neither a drug nor a cure. However, it is a technical solution that can provide easier access to the digital world for all people with Parkinson’s disease and tremors.”

Tremors are one of the first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, an incurable neurodegenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system. Over time, these tremors – which usually affect the hands – can make it difficult to perform simple tasks, such as getting dressed or using mobile devices, and can affect a person’s overall quality of life.

However, using the iPad’s accelerometer, Staybl can detect when the device is shaking due to jerks and then respond immediately by moving the on-screen web browser in the opposite direction. This stabilizes the screen so that the user can easily view the web page and keeps the device stationary.

Staybl Browser makes it easy to surf the web more stably.
Photo: Staybl

In addition, the app’s browser also comes with other features to make it easier to use the iPad for those who deal with hand tremors. For example, it does away with swipe and swipe gestures to navigate, offers larger buttons that are easier to press, and offers customizable settings to accommodate tremor symptoms that may vary throughout the day.

You can download the free app from the App Store, although it is currently only compatible with iPads running iPadOS 14 or later.

Staybl is one of the many technology solutions companies it has developed over the years to help those dealing with the hand tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. Lifters, for example, were made with an electric spoon to help those with this condition feed themselves more steadily. The microchip and sensor can detect tremors, causing the spoon to move in the opposite direction thus canceling the movements.

Apple may also look at how to stabilize the iPhone screen when a mobile device user’s hand shakes, according to a patent application published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2019. The tech giant appears to have been considering using a dynamic image stabilization circuit and motion sensors to counteract Sudden movements, so that the system can return the content on the screen to the center of the screen whenever there are tremors.

This is in addition to some of the existing features Apple already offers — some of which the company has included in the accessibility portion of its website — that could make using mobile devices a little easier for those dealing with hand tremors. For example, Apple offers the “Hold direction” setting under “Touch Accommodation Control” on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod, and iPod Touch. This allows users to decide how long their fingerprints need to touch the screen before the phone recognizes and processes it.