Accelerometers are one of the main technologies that make smart phones so smart, allowing the phone to sense angle changes and motion, but their uses aren’t exclusive to smartphone technology. Lift Labs’ newest product is a spoon that uses accelerometers and other motion sensor technology to balance food, helping someone with hand tremors eat with confidence. Lift Labs founder, Anupam Pathak was inspired to create Liftware after seeing how difficult it was for his friends to eat with hand tremors.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 10 million people suffer from essential hand tremors. This type of tremor begins gradually and may be aggravated by emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine, or drastic changes in temperature. In addition, about one million people live with Parkinson’s disease, which is also characterized by symptoms such as hand tremors, muscle stiffness, and impaired gait.
“It’s a big problem for millions,” Pathak told Co. Design. “Even if you’re not ill, as you get older, your hands start to shake, and there’s not a lot that can be done about it except take certain drugs, all of which only sometimes work and have a host of side effects.” The Liftware handle uses motion sensor technology and accelerometers, which use gravity to sense the angle the device is tilted in with respect to the earth, to identify the tremors and compensate for their movement by moving its attachment in the opposite direction. In clinical trials, the spoon showed a 70 percent average reduction in tremors, Pathak said.
At the moment, it only comes with a spoon attachment, but the company plans to add a key holder, knife, and fork attachment as well. “One thing people really wanted was a spoon to help them eat,” Pathak told Co. Design, noting that it’s hard for them to go out to eat with their hands trembling. “There’s a loss of independence and dignity because if they do, they’re spilling everywhere. People with tremors won’t go out because it’s embarrassing, and that leads to social isolation.”
See the Liftware spoon in action below.