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Monday, March 03, 2014

Stable Spoon- innovation from Anupam Pathak

Ten years ago, Anupam Pathak was a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, working on a university lab project to help stabilize stressed soldiers’ rifle barrels. Soldiers shaking with fear, dread, or stress cannot fire accurately, but canceling the shaking stabilizes the aim. Today,, Pathak has used what he learned about canceling human tremor to help the more than 5 percent of the United States population suffering with essential tremor and to help others with neurological diseases like Parkinson’s that can cause trembling. A three-person startup company he founded, Lynx Design, of San Francisco,  released the LiftWare tremor-cancelling spoon under the company’s Lift Labs name. 

Active Cancellation
The technique uses active cancellation hardware, which is currently used in noise-cancelling headphones. As part of his Ph.D. work, Pathak figured out how to make active cancellation hardware small enough to fit within the tremor-cancelling spoon. The utensil stops the bowl of the spoon from moving even while the handle itself may be trembling, which lets users can eat without spilling. 

Pathak did his research before creating the LiftWare spoon. He discovered that today’s tremor-assistive devices usually attempt to cancel movement and for that reason are big, bulky, and inconvenient. “You don’t want to use things like that in public and they don’t even work that well at home,” Pathak said. “Our idea was not to stop the hand from shaking but to cancel its movement. That way, we can make our device really small, the size of an electric toothbrush, and you can use it every day.”

Source:Jean Thilmany

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