A fall can be dangerous at any age, but the peril of a tumble increases with age. Hoping to reduce the harm they can do, Suzhou Yidaibao Intelligent Technology Co., a Chinese startup, has developed a uniquely helpful gadget. Drawing from the same principles of car airbags, their inflatable vests and belts are designed to protect seniors when they fall.
“In 2014, we witnessed an elderly friend fall and fracture their pelvic bone, which led to an excruciating period of suffering that could have been prevented,” recalls the team. This inspired them to find a way for older people to be protected from injuries in case of a fall, especially since it's a scarily common occurrence among the elderly.
“After looking at the data, we discovered that in our country about 400 million people over the age of 65 experience injuries from falling,” they write. “Of that number, 32,000 people die from their fall injuries every year. And since fall injuries often cause bone fractures, pulmonary embolisms, infections, and other problems, it severely impacts the quality of life for elderly people, affecting the lives of the whole family.”
The company then spent five years working to make their idea come to life. They finally designed a vest that can protect the head, shoulders, back, and hips. On top of getting the right kind of materials, they worked on an algorithm that predicts whether a sudden movement will result in a fall, promising to deploy the airbags within milliseconds for active protection of the wearer before the ground is reached.
The system continues to be upgraded, as acting on such a short time is a challenge. “There are two main problems we focus on,” Song Zhangxuan, the company's deputy manager says. “One is how to judge an older man's posture in real time, so how to tell when he is about to fall down. The airbag has to pop up before he falls down so he can be protected by the airbag. The second is how to deflate the airbag within 0.18 seconds. According to our statistic, an old man falls to the ground in 0.3 seconds, so technically the inflation has to complete in 0.18 seconds.”
Still, the idea is revolutionary and welcome. If perfected, it could soon reach the rest of the globe, saving lives and reducing harm among an already vulnerable population. This could not only protect our loved ones in the short-term, but also today's young adults in the future.
Hoping to reduce the harm from falls, Suzhou Yidaibao Intelligent Technology Co. has developed a uniquely helpful gadget.
Drawing from the same principles of car airbags, their inflatable vests and belts designed to protect seniors when they fall.
They worked on an algorithm that predicts whether a sudden movement will result in a fall, promising to deploy airbags throughout the vest within milliseconds for active protection of the wearer before the ground is reached.
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) November 24, 2021
Air cushion vest designed for elderly people's risk of falling. pic.twitter.com/SAg9ph96le
— Levandov (@Levandov_2) September 26, 2023