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Google Buys Lift Labs, Maker of a Spoon That Counters Parkinson’s Tremors

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Lift Labs makes a spoon that aims to help people with diseases like Parkinson’s. (Lift Labs)

Google on Wednesday announced that it’s buying Lift Labs, a biotech company that developed a special spoon designed to make it easier to eat for people with diseases like Parkinson’s or essential tremor. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

The team will join Google X, the part of the company that executes its most ambitious projects, deemed “moon shots” in Google parlance. Other X initiatives include driverless cars and WiFi beaming balloons. Specifically, Lift Labs will join Google X’s Life Sciences division.

Lift’s product, called Liftware, vibrates to stabilize tremors, countering the movements of a patient’s hand as he raises the spoon to his mouth. The company will continue to make and sell the product after it joins Google’s team in Mountain View, California.

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The search giant has increasingly delved into life sciences recently. Last year, it backed Calico, short for the California Life Company, a firm dedicated to developing medication with the overarching mission of expanding the human lifespan. Last week, the company — run by former Genentech CEO and current Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson — announced a partnership with the biopharmaceutical firm AbbVie to pour up to $1.5 billion into a research facility focused on fighting age-related diseases.

Google X has also developed a smart contact lens, which measures glucose levels in tears for people with diabetes and other conditions. In July, the company partnered with the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis to produce the contacts.

Also in July, Google unveiled another Google X project, Baseline, a volunteer-based program in which the company will intimately study the workings of the human body, with the goal of finding breakthroughs in disease prevention.

As The New York Times notes, the push to fight neurodegenerative diseases may also be a personal cause for Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who spends much of his time on Google X projects. Brin’s mother has Parkinson’s, and he’s said he has a genetic mutation that gives him a higher chance of developing the disease himself.

A Google spokesperson said Lift Labs’ “tremor-canceling” technology could “improve quality of life for millions of people.” The company also said it is looking for new ways to use an “understanding and management” of neurodegenerative diseases. The Lift team wrote that joining Google will allow it to grow its operations.