Google Puts Money Behind a Spoon That Stays Steady in Tremoring Hands

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Google’s latest venture could help people with essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease eat without spilling their food.

The Liftware Spoon, developed by health tech company Lift Labs, which Google acquired in September for an undisclosed sum, uses hundreds of algorithms to sense how a hand is shaking and makes adjustments to keep the spoon steady. In clinical trials, the spoon reduced shaking of the spoon bowl by an average of 76 percent.

“I have some patients who couldn’t eat independently, they had to be fed, and now they can eat on their own,” said University of California, San Francisco Medical Center neurologist Dr. Jill Ostrem, who specializes in movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors. “It doesn’t cure the disease — they still have a tremor — but it’s a very positive change.”

Other devices have been developed for people with tremors, like rocker knives, weighted utensils and pen grips, but none has used technology in this way.

Lift Lab founder Anupam Pathak said he hopes to add sensors to the spoons to help medical researchers and providers better understand, measure and alleviate the tremors.