This Robo-Spoon Is Like a Steadycam for Eating

For people with limited mobility, this could be a gamechanger.
December 5, 2016, 4:56pm

For those with disabilities that include uncontrolled hand or arm movements, simple tasks like eating can be a challenge. People with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and stroke deficits may have a hard time using a spoon, especially when their bodies jerk unexpectedly causing them to spill their food.

However, a robotic spoon made by Liftware, a company that makes stabilizing utensil handles, is meant to empower users to feed themselves again—spill free. The spoon recognizes the position of the user's hand at all times, and works to counteract unwanted movements.

Liftware Level, as the device is called, looks like a regular spoon, with a thick handle that's easy to grasp. It has a strap that goes around the hand so it can't be dropped. At the end of the handle, the spoon has a short, flexible, robotic component that constantly adjusts to the user's movements to ensure the spoon stays level—hence the name.

The handle has motion sensors that detect the user's hand movements, and a tiny computer inside that recognizes the kinds of movements that would make the spoon tilt too much. The computer counteracts those movements, directing the spoon to adjust so the food stays put before it reaches the user's mouth.

Instead of becoming frustrated with the task of eating, users can relax and actually enjoy their food.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.