Hi Everyone,

We are the team making the self-stabilizing spoon. You might have seen some of our videos on Reddit, we've been so amazed with the support. We're a group of young engineers (many straight from college) dedicated to creating new technology to help people in very meaningful ways.

Here's a quick gif of our first device, Liftware, in action.. You can see many more videos on our website.

We're here to answer any questions about our technology, how we got here, and where we plan to go!


Comments: 121 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

migyver340 karma

This looks really cool! A few questions: 1. ELI5 how this thing works? 2. How did you get into this?
3. How is it having a hardware product in time dominated by apps?

liftlabsdesign58 karma

Thanks for writing --

1) The device has a little computer inside that can tell the difference from intended to unintended motion (tremor). If there is tremor, it will actually move the spoon in the opposite direction of the motion to cancel it out...

2) I worked on stabilization for military applications in grad school, but then decided to apply the concept for people with motion disorders. After seeing the first device used by a patient, I realized this decision was worth it.

3) It was a long road. There are fewer resources and you really need to get things right the first time. Iteration is often not an option the way it is for apps, you really need to rely on excellent engineers to help. That's my team and I couldn't be more proud of them for what they've accomplished.

ReddifordPSlapnuckle1 karma

So is your device a modification of the "inverted pendulum" problem that some undergrad EE students may have encountered in their controls class? Or is there more to figuring out the difference between intended and unintended motion?

liftlabsdesign3 karma

The latter. I'd say the segway is most similar to the inverted pendulum. Liftware uses a feedback controller, but the algorithm is quite different.

the_pen15_club31 karma

This spoon likes pretty freaking incredible. My dad has a pretty extreme case of Parkinson's, and I'm sure this would be helpful to him. I do have a couple questions for you though.

1) Are you currently developing other ends besides a spoon? It looks like the website has already been programmed with a drop down option for the attachment. What are you working on for that?

2) What kind of warranty is offered with the base? In addition to the tremor, my dad has a very difficult time keeping a hold on things, which means he is constantly dropping electronics. We regularly replace things like his electric toothbrush, computer mouse, dinky cellphone, etc. If there's not a warranty for protection against things like this, has it at least been tested against repeated dropping?

Thank you so much for answering as well as for your work with the Parkinson's community.

liftlabsdesign28 karma

Dear pen15,

1) We are definitely developing additional attachments. A fork and deep soup spoon will be available in about a month.

2) We've definitely tested this by dropping it on the ground :) We have a 30 day trial period and 1 year warranty. I also recommend your dad try this test to make sure his tremor is in the right range.

Thanks for the kind words!

handgrenadeofantioch25 karma

As someone dealing with a family member with late stage Parkinson's(idiopathic) I just wanted to say thank you for investing your time and efforts in this. While this isn't something that would help my father, he does not have tremors, it does make me happy to know this horrendous disease is getting the attention it deserves. The more attention this receives the better. I sincerely hope we can find a cure soon so that no one else has to endure the pure agony of watching a loved one slowly decay, mentally and physically, before their eyes. Nothing has been more painful then to look at my dad and realize their is virtually nothing left of the man I love.

liftlabsdesign6 karma

Thanks for the words of encouragement. Yes it is a horrible disease. We're just a few among many working very hard to make things easier until we find a cure.

lilrayray6915 karma

I'm 22 and have chemotherapy-induced essential tremor. Mines not all that bad at the moment but will likely get worse. This self-stabilizing spoon could come in really handy. I can tell you trying to eat peas or soups is a bitch. It's fairly expensive, but I understand why.

What all addons do you anticipate for it? I saw the key holder thing.

liftlabsdesign16 karma

A deeper soup spoon and fork will be ready in about a month. Then we'll be working on other hand-tools. Please take care and I hope we can be helpful to you.

sj0lander13 karma

Looks like a really great product. I just want to say thank you for all the work you do.

liftlabsdesign11 karma

Thank you! It's support from the community and our users that keep us going.

Vodkacannon11 karma

How much physics and programming knowledge was required to design this spoon?

liftlabsdesign15 karma

A lot. Getting it to work well took a lot of programming, understanding of dynamics (predicting how things move), and understanding embedded electronics. Then there's the manufacturing! We've been working really hard :)

Choijoy10 karma

What motivates you to create awesome products like this? I know you've done more than just a spoon. Who are your heroes and what drives you?

liftlabsdesign12 karma

Having hope for the future, especially with what technology can bring motivates and drives us to create these products. Assistance, especially for aging, used to be something that is looked down upon, reminding a person of their affliction. We want to change that, providing products that people feel proud of using. The impact is what drives us.

LostGatosMan10 karma

How can a veteran get this product? Does VA pay for this?

liftlabsdesign12 karma

Yes! I'm taking a guess that you're from the bay area. If so, you can contact the Palo Alto VA as they know us well. Typically occupational therapists will have you try it out and then order one through the prosthetics department.

bobthebobd7 karma

I want to understand the actual benefit of device. The people on the videos don't seem to be able to eat with regular spoon. How did they eat before the device? Did they bring their head very close to the bowl, to the point that some splashing wasn't too bad? (perhaps they were getting splashed with food a lot)

btw, sorry if I come off as a jerk, I think this is a great quality-of-life device, and I just want to find out exactly how great it is.

liftlabsdesign11 karma

Not at all! It's a good question. We've been working with patients for almost 2 years. Embarrassment and social isolation is a huge issue. Some avoid being with others while eating, including family member. Many bring their head down to the bowl, use two hands to try to stabilize, and often avoid certain foods (e.g. soup) altogether.

The only options are drugs when often don't work and brain surgery. We wanted to create a simple solution that is less invasive.

princesstofu7 karma

Hi there! I am an occupational therapist feeling out over your spoon.

How much does the spoon weigh (we love weighted utensils) What is the handle shape? What grips are supported (tip, pinch, grasp, three point, lateral) What is the handle material?

liftlabsdesign10 karma

The device weighs around 3 oz, and it supports a variety of grips. We found that this helps patients align their tremor with one of the directions the device works to cancel. Email us if you have more questions (support [at] liftlabsdesign.com)!

bobthebobd6 karma

$300 seems steep, are you working on reducing the price? Is this covered by insurance plans?

liftlabsdesign16 karma

There is a lot of technology inside, and we're manufacturing in California. For people in hardship we're actually running an indiegogo campaign right now to provide for them. Right now we haven't been able to explore insurance coverage in too much depth, but we're working on it. VA hospitals are providing for our vets though.

amberan3 karma

Please target Medicare! Will open huge market. Also, how do I go about helping someone with little means to obtain one?

liftlabsdesign6 karma

Please contact the International Essential Tremor Foundation. We're currently raising funds to give devices to them. The foundation will provide for people in economic hardship.

drayder255 karma

Hey guys, what you did was amazing and extremely helpful for people like my grandmother whose lives can be made easier with the help of your invention. I wanted to know if you guys are coming up with anyone new that will take the world by storm like your last invention did

liftlabsdesign6 karma

Thank you. Hearing these stories from our first users is really what keeps us going. We are definitely working on more ideas, including assistive devices for different conditions. Our goal is to really make our people feel empowered and proud of using whatever we make.

Jean_luc_tryhard5 karma

when you first though of this idea, did you go into this venture wanting to make money or purely to make peoples lives easier?

liftlabsdesign13 karma

In the beginning it was mainly research that was focused on technology to make people's lives easier. The project was supported by grants from the NIH for 2 years. We're now focusing on growing organically, using revenue to fund additional products. While the government helped jump-start the company but we want to be self-reliant in the long term.

bobthebobd5 karma

Can this be applied further to be a mouse (for PC)? I know of someone who uses two hands to control mouse at times due to shaking hands, wondering if something with this technology can solve the issue.

liftlabsdesign14 karma

Yes it can. In fact there is a mouse that helps filter tremor. You should check that out.

PandoraBlackBox4 karma

Hi team, Thanks for the AMA session

What a big achievement u did here! God bless u for helping Parkinson's patients to live better every day

How did u think abt that? The spoon works with battery? Is ur technology already in stores?


liftlabsdesign2 karma

Hi, yes it does contain a battery that is rechargeable. The technology is available in our online store at the moment.

zeryl3 karma

When I saw this the first time, I was amazed.

Do you guys offer a program for low income folks? I'd love to buy one to donate to that program, as I can see how great this device would be for a large number of users.

liftlabsdesign2 karma

Absolutely! We're currently running an indiegogo campaign where proceeds will be used to donate to people in hardship. We're actually going to match all funds.

TumblrWithTonic3 karma

Did you guys have any personal mission? Was there someone in your lives that needed the spoon to help them? Or was this just an effort for everybody effected by Parkinson's?

liftlabsdesign7 karma

After meeting people to get feedback on the idea it became personal. We've been working with the same patients for years now, and most of what we do is motivated through compassion. There are a lot of problems out there with no solution, and we definitely want to find ways to help.

gblargg2 karma

Does it have any kind of learning mode to customize to a particular person? e.g. they try to hold the spoon still, then move it around in a circular pattern, etc. and the device uses this help it better distinguish the individual's tremor pattern from intentional movement patterns.

liftlabsdesign2 karma

Currently it is programmed as a "one size fits most" - we looked at the typical characteristics of tremor and then tuned our algorithms accordingly. Adaptive learning could be something we implement in the future.

grind2 karma

Hey! I think this is such a creative and cool product. You guys really inspire me. I generated a lot of ideas for products while I was at grad school, but I didn't have any clue about how to turn these ideas into an actual business. Do you have any advice you can give on this topic?

liftlabsdesign3 karma

Don't be afraid of putting yourself and your ideas out there. The main thing is persistence, it takes a lot of patience and it's so important to find and surround yourself with a supportive community. Watch this whenever you feel discouraged.

AdriMichelson2 karma

Do you guys plan to use similar technology with other products?

liftlabsdesign1 karma

Yes, we'll build out attachments for Liftware, but we're also looking at ways to help with other conditions as well. Stay tuned!

motokrow1 karma

Congratulations on the great work. My dad suffers from essential tremor and I will show him your product. He also suffers from Orthostatic Tremor, which has more of a negative impact on his lifestyle. It is a high frequency tremor in his legs that makes standing still for more than a few seconds nearly impossible. Unfortunately, there aren't any effective treatments. Have you looked into this condition or envision a device to help with such a condition? Is it easier or harder to counteract a higher frequency tremor?

liftlabsdesign2 karma

We actually modified our mobile app (Lift Pulse) to help measure orthostatic tremor with a phone. Some researchers are using that in their clinical studies. We'll keep thinking of ways to help though.

subtleturtle1 karma

I am a rehab nurse case manager. How would I go about setting up a demo or in-service for my OT staff?

liftlabsdesign1 karma

You can send us an email! [email protected] -- We'd be happy to help out.

BonerYNot1 karma

Can you make an overhead crane that doesn't swing?

liftlabsdesign2 karma

We can. It's a classical controls problem -- you'll probably like this (not us but still cool). Search inverted pendulum on youtube as well.

walexj1 karma

Had you considered passive low-pass filtering designs prior to using the active filter that you've gone with? Are you using a full PID controller?

liftlabsdesign2 karma

Yes, passive relies of mass (large, heavy) and is hard to adapt to changing weight. We wanted this to work with a big hunk of meat, as well as with light cornflakes. Active does much better. We're using something different than traditional PID.