Google buys Lift Labs, gives boost to health

With all of Google’s acquisitions these days, you’d think the search engine giant has tech as its goal. And yet, Google continues to show us that its interests are multi-faceted.

Google’s always been a tech company, but that didn’t stop the Mountain View, California company from becoming a search engine/mobile giant to contend with when it purchased Apple OS rival Android. Even with its acquisitions in mobile video, hardware, smart thermostats, autonomous vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones), the company still seems concerned about health.

Google still wants to know what makes a healthy human being so that diseases and illnesses can be detected sooner and fought better. Now, the search engine giant is back to focus on helping those who have Parkinson’s disease. Today, Google purchased Lift Labs, a company known for creating a spoon (called the Liftware device) that aids Parkinson’s disease patients with eating properly. Google will also acqui-hire the Lift Labs founder and a few other employees and they will work at Google’s own Mountain View headquarters.

Parkinson’s disease affects the nervous system, causing individuals to have slight tremors within body limbs that become more noticeable over time as the disease progresses. With increasing body tremors, performing basic functions such as feeding onself can be taxing on Parkinson’s patients. This is where Lift Labs comes to the rescue: it wants to help improve eating efficiency and give Parkinson’s patients the best of dignity in combating their everyday challenges.

“People struggle with all sorts of things. The key. Makeup applicators. Handheld tools. Once you start to lose the ability to function independently, there’s a huge emotional toll. For a woman to be unable to put makeup on by herself, people will often just avoid going out in public,” said Lift Labs founder Anupam Pathak.

Google’s acquisition here may seem like one more acquisition to expand the company’s influence, but there’s a personal reason behind the acquisition: Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s mother has Parkinson’s disease. “I kind of give myself 50-50 odds of getting Parkinson’s in 20 or so years, 25 years. But I also give it a 50-50 shot of medicine catching up to be able to deal with it,” co-founder Sergey Brin told the New York Times in 2009. The Lift Labs acquisition is likely near and dear to Brin’s heart than just another company that Google could muscle the cash to purchase.

Something tells us that Android Wear is only the beginning of Google’s push into health and biotechnology. Whatever Google’s up to, Lift Labs won’t be the last of it.

About the author

Nitin Agarwal

Nitin has a background in Electrical Engineering and is passionate about the Internet of Things. He covers how connected devices like smart homes, wearables, and industrial IoT are changing our daily lives. Nitin is also a DIY enthusiast and loves to build IoT gadgets.