When British inventor Chris Peacock learned that a close family member was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, he saw his relative find it difficult to drink from a cup. At the time Peacock was pursuing a master of art in design engineering so he began creating prototypes for a special mug that could help.
"I knew I had to find a solution," he said. "So I started playing around with a few different ideas of how someone with tremor could hold something in mid-air."
Following six years of extensive testing and collaboration with numerous health experts, Peacock's handSteady cup debuted this summer.
The lightweight cup is made from a non-ceramic material and can hold 8 ounces of liquid. Resembling bone China, the white cup's large handle contains ball bearings that allow it to work smoothly with gravity. The cup, which currently retails for about $64 (£39.99), also comes with a subtle, travel cup-like lid that goes inside the rim.
Unlike fixed cups, handSteady doesn't require the user's wrists to bend, the elbows to be raised, or the head to be tilted back. As the cup is lifted, the handle rotates just enough to keep liquid upright until the user wants to take a sip. This can aid people with tremors, brain injuries, cerebral palsy and limited strength.
Peacock said the initial feedback has been positive. Customers, particularly those with muscular sclerosis, wrote to say they found the cup helpful on their "bad days." A Scottish woman with tremors reported that she's been able to have a full cup of tea for the first time in her life.
Currently Peacock is developing partnerships with British charities and nonprofits so that 10% of the proceeds from handSteady sales go into supporting those organizations. He said he's trying to build similar relationships stateside. Next, the company will likely be branching out. Peacock added he's fielded inquiries from members of the sailing community.
"If you think of the history of drinking cups, they've never had a rotatable handle before," he said. "I think in 20 years' time it's going to commonplace."