Indian Robotics Student Invents a Smart Spoon

Sensors in the utensil allow people with hand tremors to eat with dignity.

Nov 11, 2023
Indian Robotics Student Invents a Smart Spoon | Sensors in the utensil allow people with hand tremors to eat with dignity.

Robotics has done a world of good for people with disabilities. From making specially designed standing wheelchairs to 3d printing prosthetics, new inventions are improving the quality of life for thousands of people. Now, a 17-year-old student in India with a passion for robotics invented a smart spoon that can help people with tremors eat with dignity, according to Chief Deli.

Aarrav Anil, from Bengraluro, has been interested in mechanics for a decade after his mother bought him a LEGO kit. This led to a passion in robotics that has led Aarrav to represent India at more than 20 robotics competitions around the globe.

Inspiration for the smart spoon
Aarrav’s  interest in creating a smart spoon was not about accolades or winning awards. His motivation for the invention, reported The Guardian, came from seeing his uncle Arjun who has Parkinson’s disease struggling to feed himself. Food kept spilling out of his mouth and unto his clothing.

More than 7 million people in India suffer from Parkinson’s disease. This disease affects the brain and leads to involuntary shaking. As the disease progresses, it leads to difficulty in eating, often requiring people to be fed by others.  Aarrav wanted his uncle to be able to eat by himself with dignity.

This inspired the youth to look for a way to use his knowledge of robotics to help his uncle. So, Aarrav took to his room with microcontrollers, motors, sensors and a 3-D printer. Not everything went smoothly.

“It was frustrating not being able to find the tiny electronics parts I needed here in India. I had to order some from China, but they took ages to arrive,” Aarrav told The Guardian.

He worked on a plan and when his blueprint won first prize in the Future Innovators category in the 2022 World Robot Olympiad, he was encouraged to make the first prototype.

Aarrav made  a first model but the handle was too slippery for his uncle to use so he had to change it. Then the prototype went to be tested at the RV College of Physiotherapy in Bengaluru.

About the robotic spoon
The original design has gone through a few tweaks. “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 said.

The trials being conducted at the college are expected to be completed by early 2024 and the results will be published in a medical journal. Aarrav hopes that his smart spoon will begin to be manufactured on a small scale – for hospitals –  when the testing is complete.

While other smart spoons already exist and two US companies are already producing their own versions, the cost is too high  for most Indians. Aarrav’s version is estimated to cost around $80. His hope is that everyone with Parkinson’s will have access to a smart spoon.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.