Google is throwing its brain power, money and technology at the humble spoon. These Spoons are a little-bit more than your basic utensil: By using hundreds of algorithms, allow people with essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease to eat without spilling.
Technology used in this spoon senses how a hand is shaking and makes instant adjustments to stay balanced. In clinical trials, an average of 76 percent reduced of shaking spoon bowl by using the Liftware spoons.
“We want to help people in their daily lives today and hopefully increase understanding of disease in the long run,” Said by Google spokesperson Katelin Jabbari .
Other adaptive devices have been developed to help people with tremors — rocker knives, weighted utensils, pen grips. But until now this way of technology has not been used.
“It’s totally novel,” said by UC San Francisco Medical Center neurologist Dr Jill Ostrem, who specializes in movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors.
She advises the inventors and says the device, which has a fork attachment, has been a remarkable asset for some of her patients.
“I have some patients who couldn’t eat independently, they had to be fed, and now they can eat on their own,” she said. “It doesn’t cure the disease — they still have tremor — but it’s a very positive change.”
Google got into the no-shake utensil business in September, acquiring a small, National of Institutes of Health-funded startup called Lift Labs for confidential sum.
More than 10 million people worldwide, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s mother, have essential tremors or Parkinson’s disease. Brin has said he also has a mutation associated with higher rates of Parkinson’s and has donated more than $50 million to research for a cure. But the Lift Labs acquisition was not related, said by Jabbari.
Founder of Lift Lab, Anupam Pathak said that moving from a small, four-person startup in San Francisco to the vast Google campus in Mountain View has freed him up to be more creative as he explores how to apply the technology even more broadly. His team works at the search giant’s division called Google(x) Life Sciences, which is also developing a smart contact lens that measures glucose levels in tears for diabetics and is researching how nanoparticles in blood might help detect diseases.
Joining Google has been motivating said by Pathak, but his focus remains on people who are now able to eat independently with his device.
“If you build something with your hands and it has that sort of shock, it’s the enormous feeling ever,” he said. “As an engineer who likes to build things, that’s the most endorse thing that can happen.”
They also hope to add sensors to the spoons to help medical researchers and providers for better understanding, measure and alleviate tremors, said by Pathak.
Shirin Vala, 65, lives in Oakland, has had an essential tremor for about a decade. She was at her monthly Essential Tremor group at a San Ramon medical clinic earlier this year when researchers developing the device introduced the idea and asked if anyone was interested in helping them. As it was refined, she tried it out and gave them feedback. And when they hit the market at $295 aside, she bought one.
Vala said eating was really a challenge without the spoon because her hands quiver so hard meal fell off the utensils before she could eat it.
“I was shaking and I had a hard time to keep the meal on a spoon, especially soup or something like an olive or tomatoes or something. It is very inconvenient. It’s very disheartened,” she said.
The spoon definitely improved her situation. “I was surprised that I held the meal in there so much superior. It makes eating much effortless, especially if I’m out at a restaurant,” she said.