Smart Spoon Helps Parkinson's Patients Feed Themselves

GYENNO spoon is a robotic aid for people with tremors.
January 9, 2016, 1:00pm
Image: Kari Paul/Motherboard

Being able to feed yourself is a daily freedom many people take for granted, but for people with neurological conditions causing tremors, the essential activity can be a huge source of frustration and shame.

Enter GYENNO's Smart Spoon, a stabilization utensil device that offsets 85 percent of unwanted tremors for users affected by diseases like Parkinson's. The spoon, which has been in development for nine months, was on display at the Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas this week.

Dehuai Li, marketing officer at GYENNO, told Motherboard hundreds of people are already using the technology in China. The tool works with sophisticated stabilization control algorithms and motion learning technology to learn the frequency of the tremors and adjust to them, making it possible for users to eat normally.

A full charge lasts three hours––plenty of time for a normal meal––and the battery can be swapped out easily. In addition to stabilizing the spoon so users can eat normally, the device also collects data on the frequency and other information about the tremor that can be shared with medical professionals.

The GYENNO Spoon is similar to another robotic spoon from Lift Labs, which has been relatively off-the-radar since Google purchased it in 2014. Li said GYENNO now has a global patent on the technology in its spoon, and the company believes its gadget is the best on the market. A representative from GYENNO told Motherboard the spoon has several key differences from Lift's, which is also patented.

"We use special PID [proportional–integral–derivative controller] control technology and attitude stabilization technology to make a better performance, higher frequency response and more accurate position control," he said. That makes [GYENNO Spoon] 85 percent tremor canceling while Liftware just 75 percent."

GYENNO Spoon has several hundred users currently, many of which have uploaded their improvements to Chinese social media site Weibo, saying it has greatly improved their ability to eat, Li said.

"You want to feed yourself, you don't want someone else to feed you," he said. "It improves your confidence and dignity. Many of these diseases have no cure, so we want to improve the quality of life."

The smart spoon and fork retails for $300 and will be released on Amazon in the coming weeks.