If you have limited use of your arms or hands, eating can be a messy adventure. If I had a dollar for every bowl of soup, ramen or pho that has ended up more on my clothes than in my stomach I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere reading some other guy’s New Mobility blog posts and sipping on a margarita.
The Liftware Level could be the gadget that changes that. The Level is a new adaptive utensil that relies on tiny sensors and a built-in computer to keep the head of the utensil (either a spoon or a fork) level no matter how your hand twists and turns. Like a super-smart little worm, it bends and adjusts as you bring the Level to your mouth, keeping your food — be it soup, ramen, stew or steak – level and en route to your mouth, not your lap.
Stefanie Putnam, a C4-5 quad from Lafayette, California, has been one of the testers who have helped develop the Level. An avowed soup aficionado, Putnam used to avoid feeding herself liquid foods because her shaky hand and incomplete wrist function made it near impossible to eat. “It’s always been a messy struggle. … The whole act of feeding myself and eating has been challenging,” she says. “I really kind of fell into people feeding me and kind of let that piece go.”
The Liftware Level has changed that.
“It is so much easier,” she says. “The device allows me to do so much more with more efficiency, using less energy, and the accuracy is 100 percent better … I always laugh when I eat with it. I’ve been fighting this for so long and now it’s just so simple.”
In addition to once again being able to enjoy soups and other tricky to eat foods, Putnam credits the Level with boosting her confidence, both socially and in her own physical abilities. “It is starting to encourage my right arm to do something new,” she says. “It has given me a light and reinspired me that I can do more.”
All of the processing is housed in the Level’s handle. To use, you pop on your desired attachment (spoon or fork) and then either grasp the handle or use the provided strap to attach it to your hand. To recharge, simply pop off the head and attach a slick USB charger. The attachments are machine washable, while the base needs just a wipe down.
Liftware launched the Level at the beginning of this month, allowing the public to preorder a Level starter kit with a utensil base, spoon attachment, strap, bag and USB charger for $195. The website points out that averages out to 17 cents a meal for a year. Additional fork and spoon attachment are $34.95. Now all I need is a mechanized drink holder to help with my beachside margaritas.