Google has bought Lift Labs, the maker of a tremor-cancelling spoon aimed at improving the lives of people suffering from Parkinson’s and essential tremor.
The acquisition marks a further move into the biotech industry for the Silicon Valley giant -and Google said it hopes to explore how the technology could be used in other ways to improve the quality of life of people with neurodegenerative diseases.
Lift Lab’s Liftware spoon detects tremors in the hand via sensors in the handle, working to cancel them out and consequently stabilise movement.
The company is joining Google’s research division. Google X is dedicated to making major technological advancements though projects - known as “moonshots” - such as self-driving cars and drones.
Google made the announcement on its Google + page on Wednesday: “Today we’re welcoming the Lift Labs team into Google[x]. Their tremor-cancelling device could improve quality of life for millions of people.
“We’re also going to explore how their technology could be used in other ways to improve the understanding and management of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.”
Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose mother has Parkinson's, discovered in 2008 that he also carried a mutation of the LRRK2 gene (G2019S) that increases the risk of developing the disease.
He has since spoken about his desire to help in the search for a cure. "I was very surprised," he said. "I wasn’t alarmed. I felt empowered. I felt I could invest in the research."
Google has also expanded into other areas of healthcare in recent months. Earlier this year the company said it was testing a special contact lens for diabetics that is capable of monitoring blood-sugar levels.
And in 2013 Google created a separate company, Calico, which develops technologies to tackle health issues related to aging.