Lift Labs, the Rock Health startup developing smart utensils for people with Parkinson's or Essential Tremor, has raised $1 million from angel investors and announced its official launch. The startup's first hardware product, Liftware, a spoon that detects and autocorrects for hand tremors, will be available for preorder from Lift Labs' website, with plans to ship in December.
Prior to the angel funding, Lift Labs was operating from an $800,000 NIH grant, which brings its total funding to $1.8 million. CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Lift Labs received an investment from Rock Health. This is incorrect.
"It's a first round of private money after being funded by the grant. The government is now handing off support to private investors," Lift Labs CEO Anupam Pathak told MobiHealthNews. "A lot of it is going to our manufacturing costs. There's significant amount of capital required, especially since we're doing the bulk of our manufacturing here. [The funding is] basically just to pay engineering support, manufacturing support and also help with marketing and developing the business. It's a modest amount, but we think that it will get us out there and allow us to begin to expand the business to future products we'll be developing."
Parkinson's Disease and Essential Tremor both have the symptom of hand tremors which can range from minor to severe. The Liftware handle uses the same motion sensors as the iPhone to detect the user's unique tremor, then generates motions that cancel out the shaking, allowing the spoon to remain still. A clinical trial completed in March showed that the technology could cancel at least 70 percent of a tremor.
Liftware will sell for $295, but the technology is modular: the spoon can be removed from the tremor-canceling handle, which will be compatible with additional, forthcoming attachments. The company's website suggests a soup spoon, fork, and key are possibilities for the near future. In addition, the company is launching a program where people who want to support the business but don't have tremors themselves can buy one to donate to an afflicted person who can't afford it. This program is being organized through a partnership with the International Essential Tremor Foundation
The handle has a rechargeable battery that should last several days on a charge. It automatically turns off when the spoon is removed and turns on when an attachment is inserted. Pathak said the spoon is not a medical device and the company isn't seeking FDA clearance.
Coincidentally, Lift Labs' launch comes the day after an Indiegogo campaign began for EasyFork, a specially-designed 3D-printed fork for people with arthritis. Earlier this year, HAPI Labs launched HAPI Fork, a fork that tracks eating habits and vibrates when the user eats too quickly.