A fully functional prototype of a wristwatch-style device that can detect myoclonic and grand mal seizures in the person wearing it and notify caregivers via cell phone or e-mail message within seconds is awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The SmartWatch is produced by Smart Monitor, an entrepreneurial offshoot of video security company Intellivision. The company hopes that the watch will give peace of mind not only to epileptics but their caregivers as well.

The device grew out of an unusual request made to Intellivision, a company that specializes in video security monitoring. A woman asked if there was some way to monitor her son during the night when he was asleep. “It turned out to be an insurmountable challenge for video,” said Anoo Nathan with Intellivision. “It’s hard to keep track of a person’s movement in the dark, underneath blankets or sheets. For video to work, the subject has to be in the camera’s full field of view.”

Nathan and Vaidhi, her husband and the company’s president and CEO, found themselves heading down another path, one that led them to filing a patent application for a device that detects abnormal motion. Instead of using a camera, the device uses tiny gyroscopes, accelerometers and computer algorithms to sense and analyze body movements. The watch records time and duration of seizures, a helpful tool when it comes to treating seizures with medications.

In order to be marketed as a healthcare device, the watch will have to undergo rigorous FDA guidelines. In the interim, Intellivision says it likely will launch the SmartWatch in two phases, first as an abnormal motion detector without claims involving epilepsy, seizures or its efficacy as a medical device, and secondly as a medical device but only after it has been tested on at least 35 epilepic patients.

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