Finger trying to tip the StayBowl

Disability Innovations: The next generation of tableware

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is “Staybowl”?

Staybowl is a bowl that will not tip when in use. The same technology can be used to adapt many other items, including your own tableware so that they too become stable and cannot tip. Staybowl can be used on any surface, including a tablecloth and has not only been designed to be very functional, it also looks great.

What’s the story behind it?

Malcolm and Loretta Rhodes have a daughter, Michela, who has Cerebral Palsy affecting her manual dexterity and fine motor skills.  This means she often has difficulties when eating independently.

Malcolm attended a Scope focus group to discuss what items parents and carers of disabled people would like to see readily available at stores such as IKEA. He discovered many other people had the same challenge as Michela, and would love to see a bowl that would not tip, thereby making eating independently a lot easier and safer for many people.

Currently available products were discussed (such as suction cup bowls and skirt bowls) but everyone agreed these had limitations and something new was needed.

How does it work?

The challenge was to design a bowl that was functional but would not stand out as a bowl for disabled people and actually looked great.

As parents, Malcolm and Loretta had vast experience of bringing up a disabled child to adulthood so fully understood the needs of the potential users.

They decided to fix the bowl to another object that itself could not be tipped. The way to do it was to use the same mechanism as that found on a food processor, by simply engaging the two parts and turning slightly to lock them together. They become, temporarily, a single item. It was also decided to embed the bottom part of the mechanism into a place mat.

The reason this makes the bowl untippable is that the edge of the place mat is either at or beyond the edge of the bowl as in the below diagrams.

The next day the first prototype was produced using a porcelain bowl, a mechanism made from a Thermos flask cup and a standard place mat. It worked, the bowl would not tip.

With the support of Innovate UK, Malcolm worked with a local product designer, who using CAD and 3D printing produced a working model of the mechanism to be used.

A CAD prototype was produced of a place mat incorporating the bottom half of the mechanism, and a bowl incorporating the top half of the mechanism. This proved that the product could be both useful and stylish. Further prototypes were developed in response to testing, including improving the portability of the product.

The finished prototype even allows you to use your own tableware on the base.

What is the potential?

With research and development complete Malcolm is now looking at how to take the product to market, including discussions with major distributors. But it is also an opportunity to get involved with Staybowl at the early stages, as they seek business partners and investors. Malcolm is also looking for people who can understand and make use of the product. If you fall into either, or both of these groups then contact us at innovation@scope.org.uk and we can put you in touch with Malcolm directly to find out more.

What we like about it

What we like about Stay Bowl is that Malcolm heard a problem, direct from potential users, and went away and solved it simply and effectively. Keeping in mind a design that people would actually want to use – not sacrificing aesthetics for practicality. Fingers crossed you’ll see it on the market soon.

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.