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Boy Invents Smart Spoon for His Uncle’s Trembling Hands that Is Affordable in India

Courtesy of Aarrav Anil

A schoolboy in India has invented a mechanical spoon that automatically stabilizes itself to help his uncle eat through his hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s.

It was the sight of the 70-year-old retired government employee trying to eat and splattering his food on his trousers, and a 10-year fascination with mechanics that started when his mother but him a Lego set, that saw Aarrav Anil build the device with motors, sensors, microelectronics, and a 3D printer.

Now undergoing tests at the RV College of Physiotherapy in Bengaluru, Southern India, Anil has taken on plenty of feedback—including from his uncle who was all too happy to give it a whirl.

“I’ve been fine-tuning the design based on the college’s feedback – that it needs to be waterproof so that it can be washed without damaging all the electronics inside; that it must be detachable so it can be cleaned and replaced by a fork; and the spoon needs to be deeper to hold more food,” Aarrav told the Guardian.

It’s not the first mechanically stabilized spoon on the market, GNN has reported on the development of such devices by Google in 2014, and by Liftware in 2016. 

But Anil’s costs less than half of what similar spoons go for, making it far more likely that the more than 7 million Indian Parkinson’s patients can afford it.

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And he expects to publish the results of a small trial in a medical journal next year before manufacturing them on a small scale; initially for hospitals.

He said that he remembers fondly the words of his uncle upon the occasion of his first test of the spoon—that such a small thing could mean the difference between “dignity and indignity.”

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When he isn’t working with the spoon tech, Anil is an accomplishment representative of his country in science competitions; carrying the flag over 20 times in international robotics contests.

In one of these, he won first prize for his spoon blueprints, which jolted him into designing the prototype undergoing testing at RV College.

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