Google is throwing its money, brain power and technology at the humble spoon (Spoogles, i guess lol). The technology senses how a hand is shaking and makes instant adjustments to stay balanced. In clinical trials, the Liftware spoons reduced shaking of the spoon bowl by an average of 76 percent.
But these spoons (don’t call them spoogles) are a bit more than your basic utensil: Using hundreds of algorithms, they allow people with essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease to eat without spilling.
“We want to help people in their daily lives today and hopefully increase understanding of disease in the long run,” Google spokesperson Katelin Jabbari said.
Other adaptive devices have been developed to help people with tremors — rocker knives, weighted utensils, pen grips. But until now, experts say, technology has not been used in this way.
“It’s totally novel,” said UC San Francisco Medical Center neurologist Dr. Jill Ostrem, who specializes in movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors. “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.”
Without the spoon, Vala, a patient said eating was really a challenge because her hands trembled so hard food fell off the utensils before she could eat it. “I was shaking and I had a hard time to keep the food on a spoon, especially soup or something like an olive or tomatoes or something. It is very embarrassing. It’s very frustrating,” she said.
The spoon definitely improved her situation. “I was surprised that I held the food in there so much better. It makes eating much easier, especially if I’m out at a restaurant,” she said.