Google is continuing its foray into biotech with the purchase of Lift Labs, a company that makes a high-tech spoon designed to stabilize itself for people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative tremors.
Lift Labs would join Google’s Life Sciences, a division of Google X that focuses on long-term, innovative projects.
Lift Labs Liftware device is a spoon with a vibrating mechanism that counteracts the tremors that affect people with neurodegenerative diseases, allowing them more easily eat without sloshing food.
The device could change the lives of the nearly 11 million Americans, and more worldwide, who suffer from either essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease, by making an everyday task, like eating a bowl of soup, easier.
Founder Anupam Pathak sees the technology being extended to other everyday objects, as well as extending the diagnostic capabilities to be able to monitor tremors over time. Such innovations could continue to improve the quality of life for people who suffer from tremors.
The acquisition is Google’s latest addition to its stable of biotech investments. The company teamed up with Novartis (NVS) in July to develop smart lens technology and last year backed anti-aging biotech company Calico, which announced a new partnership with AbbVie (ABBV) last week.
The newest investment is also deeply personal for Google X leader Sergey Brin. His mother has Parkinson’s, and he himself has tested positive for a genetic mutation that gives him a higher probability of developing the disease.
“I kind of give myself 50-50 odds of getting Parkinson’s in 20 or so years, 25 years,” Brin told The New York Times in 2009 after he backed a major Parkinson’s study. “But I also give it a 50-50 shot of medicine catching up to be able to deal with it.”