Liftware levels the playing field for disabled diners
Most of us might don't have to think twice about how we feed ourselves, but for people with limited movement in their hands and arms, dinnertime can be a frustrating and messy experience. Aimed at those suffering from afflictions like cerebral palsy and Huntington's disease, the Liftware Level is a motorized utensil that flexes to compensate for a user's restricted movement so as to keep the utensil head level.
Different disorders can affect a person's mobility in a variety of ways, and these call for different solutions. The Obi robot arm is designed for those with very little or no mobility in their arms, while Liftware's first product, now called the Steady, stabilizes the spoon against tremors caused by Parkinson's disease or essential tremor.
Like the Steady, the Liftware Level works to counteract unintended movements, but adds two motors that enable the utensil head to automatically flex and stay level for the trip from plate to mouth, regardless of how the user's arm twists or bends. It does this by sensors in the handle measuring the movements of the user's hand in three dimensions and then rotating the handle and flexing the head to compensate.
Interchangeable attachments mean the Level can serve as a fork or a spoon as needed, and there's a strap for people who may have trouble keeping a grip on the device. Each charge of the battery will be enough for about three meals, or one hour of use.
"Liftware Level is a utensil designed to specifically address mealtime struggles facing individuals with limited mobility or range of motion," says Anupam Pathak, Liftware's creator. "Designed and developed with significant input from physicians and potential users, we hope this new device will turn the everyday task of eating into a more pleasurable experience for more people living with movement disorders."
The Level is available to order now from Liftware, and the company expects to ship the device before the holidays. The starter kit, which includes the handle, a soup spoon attachment, hand strap, charger and travel pouch, costs US$195, while extra fork and spoon attachments can be added for $34.95 each.
The device can be seen in action in the video below.