Academy Alumna’s Invention Appears on TIME’s List of Best Inventions of 2016

Congratulations to Academy of Art University graduate Sha Yao whose work is featured on TIME Magazine’s unranked list of the “25 Best Inventions of 2016”!

Yao, who graduated with an MFA from the Academy’s School of Industrial Design in 2012, gained recognition for her Eatwell Assistive Tableware – a dining set designed specifically for people with cognitive impairments.

Inspiration for the invention came after Yao’s late grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Wanting to better understand the disease, Yao volunteered at adult day care centers and interviewed caregivers. It was then that Yao discovered eating was one of the most challenging activities for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Like her grandmother, Yao noticed many people with cognitive and sensory impairments struggled to eat, often hindered by common accidents such as spilled food and tipped cups.

“For many families, meals are a time for sharing and reconnecting, and enjoying each other’s company,” Yao said on her website. “When the disease affects one member of a family, the mealtime experience can become stressful and challenges are created for both caregivers and their loved ones.”

Through intense research, mock ups, and revised models implementing professional feedback, Yao designed a product dedicated to improving the mealtime experience for those who struggle daily.

For more information about Eatwell and Yao’s story, visit