Have you ever had one of those days where you fall and wish your body came equipped with an air bag? OK, that sounds kind of silly, but hip injuries are a serious matter, especially for senior citizens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 300,000 people age 65 and older are hospitalized due to hip fractures every year. And, about 95 percent of those injuries happen due to falls.
Also, for patients age 60 years or older, there can a long-term, increased risk of death after the fracture. Researchers report the risk of death for a person that age nearly triples during the first year after a hip fracture. And, even eight years after a fracture, researchers found that patients were twice as likely to die than the typical senior citizen.
At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, one company showcased its latest invention: the Hip’Air. French company Helite designed similar airbag technology for thrill seekers who love motorcycling, skiing and horseback riding.
With more than 60,000 of these body-protecting airbags already on the market as personal safety equipment, the company saw how its product could also help at-risk senior citizens. So, the design was adapted to create the Hip’Air.
At first glance, the Hip’Air looks like a giant fanny pack.
The company says it created this design with “comfort, simplicity, high protection and mobility” in mind.
But, inside this simple design are a series of sensors that monitor a person’s movement more than 1,000 times per second. The sensors can tell when person falls and that’s when the Hip’Air instantly deploys the airbags built into the belt. This all happens within 0.3 seconds and allows the bags to deploy before impact on the ground.
All of this happens without the wearer having to press any buttons; the sensor system and airbag deployment are entirely automatic. There’s just a simple On/Off switch that allows the wearer to deactivate the belt when they don’t need its safety features turned on.
Helite claims that its Hip’Air device reduces the impact of falls by 90 percent on the wearer’s body. Watch it in action below.
Unlike car airbags, though, the Hip’Air’s bags are reusable. So, customers don’t have to buy a replacement belt after every use. The belt is also washable and the chargeable battery lasts seven days.
According to Helite, the Hip’Air is scheduled to go on the market in March. Retail price is listed at 650 Euros (about $800).