Teen develops affordable ‘smart spoon’ that helps Parkinson’s patients eat food easily

Age is no barrier when it comes to making an impact on the world. Aarrav Anil has proved it with his latest invention, a smart spoon, aimed at giving Parkinson’s patients a certain level of easy, per The Guardian. He believes the spoon will aid the patients in eating their food independently without any assistance. The 17-year-old has collaborated with an institution in India for further improvements in his design. He hopes that his invention soon passes all regulatory bodies and can be availed on a mass scale. His inspiration behind the whole endeavor was his uncle, who is affected by this condition.

According to National Institute of Aging, “Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.” Anil’s smart spoon has sensors that detect when tremors occur on one side and then start movements on the other side. It effectively cancels the shaking displayed by the user and keeps the spoon stable. The prototype of the smart spoon has now been sent to the RV College of Physiotherapy in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where it is undergoing trials so that it can pass all the regulations.

Anil said, “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.” The idea of creating such a spoon came to him when he saw his uncle, Arjun, struggling while eating food. In his 70s, his uncle is impacted by Parkinson’s in every aspect of his life. Anil saw him violently shaking while eating with a spoon and splattering it all over himself.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

Ultimately, he had to call his servant to help him eat the food. Anil could see the frustration in the eyes of the retired civil servant. In order to help him and many others suffering from this predicament, he began working on the smart spoon. His uncle has also been heavily involved in the project, giving him tips on how to improve the design. After trying it out for the first time, he suggested Anil alter its handle, as it was too slippery.

Though several US companies make spoons like this, they are out of reach for common civilians of India. The equipment is in the price range of $200 (£164), while Anil aims to bring it down to $80. However, he is cautious not to compromise on anything or involve something faulty in this endeavor.

Therefore, his equipment is going through multiple trials in college and a proper validation process. He expects the results of these to be soon published in a medical journal. After getting appropriate permissions, he wants to manufacture them in hospitals, where patients will be able to use them. The student has to manage his studies, along with his innovation, which often gets hectic, but he keeps at it to serve people with Parkinson’s.

Something that always drives him to strive towards his goals is his uncle’s words, “Who would have thought such a small thing could mean the difference between dignity and indignity?” His innovation has already been garnering praise from the Science community. It won first prize in the future innovators category at last year’s World Robot Olympiad in Germany.

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