A young student from India creates an inexpensive intelligent spoon designed for individuals with shaky hands.

Aarrav Anil was inspired to create his invention after witnessing his uncle Arjun, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, struggle with eating last year. Arjun’s attempts to maintain his dignity were thwarted by the frustration of food spilling out of his mouth and onto his clothes. Eventually, the retired civil servant in his 70s had to give up and ask for assistance with feeding.

Aarrav, a 17-year-old from Bengaluru, South India, was motivated to explore robotics after witnessing his uncle’s severe tremors while trying to use a spoon. He retreated to his room and utilized microcontrollers, sensors, motors, and a 3D printer to create a prototype of a smart spoon. This innovation is currently being tested at the RV College of Physiotherapy in Bengaluru.

The spoon, powered by a battery, uses sensors to identify tremors on one side and then triggers movement on the other side. This effectively counteracts shaking and maintains stability for the spoon.

Aarrav states that he has been making minor adjustments to the design after receiving feedback from the college. The main suggestions were to make the product waterproof so it can be washed without causing damage to the internal electronics, to ensure that it is detachable for easy cleaning and replacement with a fork, and to make the spoon deeper in order to hold more food.

Aarrav Anil and the smart spoon he invented for those with Parkinson’s disease.

Aarrav’s uncle also gave the original design a try and suggested that the handle was too slick and required a stronger hold.

Aarrav’s interest in mechanics started 10 years ago when his mother gave him a Lego set. He has since competed in over 20 robotics competitions globally, representing India.

After winning first place in the future innovators category at the World Robot Olympiad in Germany last year, the blueprint for the smart spoon inspired Aarrav to create a prototype.

“It was disappointing that I couldn’t locate the small electronic components I needed in India. As a result, I had to purchase them from China, but the delivery took a long time,” he stated.

Approximately 7 million individuals in India are believed to have Parkinson’s disease, a disorder characterized by gradual deterioration of certain regions of the brain and typically seen in individuals over 50 years of age. Common symptoms include uncontrollable tremors and stiff muscles. As the disease advances, eating may become challenging, leading individuals to depend on assistance from others.

The intelligent spoon is not entirely unique. There are a few American companies that offer something similar, but they are priced at $200 or more, which Aarrav is aware is too expensive for many Indians. He predicts that his spoon will be priced around $80.

The experiments and approval procedure at the university are anticipated to conclude by early next year, and the findings will be released in a medical publication. After that, Aarrav aims to produce it on a smaller scale, primarily for medical facilities.

When Aarrav is not busy preparing for his exams, he devotes the majority of his leisure time to developing his ideas. His goal is to ensure that every household with a member who has Parkinson’s disease has access to the intelligent spoon. He recalls his uncle Arjun’s words, which continue to resonate with him: “Who would have imagined that a simple object could make such a significant impact on one’s sense of self-worth?”

Source: theguardian.com

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