CES 2018: Airbags for the Elderly Are a Thing Now

By Tom Pritchard on at

Whenever there's a big tech show, there's always a massive amount of the usual tech on show. TVs, phones, headphones, home appliances, and so on. There are also plenty of weird and wonderful gadgets that make you stop and wonder whether your brain is playing tricks on you.

Helite's Hip Air airbag belt certainly falls into the latter category.

It is pretty much what it sounds like. A belt that you strap around your waist, and in the event of a fall it deploys airbags to keep you safe. It's mainly designed for the elderly who have a higher chance of serious injury if they fall over, unlike some similar products that have been produced for people on semi-dangerous vehicles like bikes, motorbikes, and horses.

It weighs just under a kilogram, and Helite claims that the belt is able to detect a fall within 200 milliseconds using built in gyroscopes and accelerometers. From there is takes another 80 milliseconds to deploy, protecting areas like the hip from impact damage. The belt itself clips on quite easily, and tells you how to adjust it for optimum protection. If you put it on incorrectly it'll beep at you until you get it right.

It's a nice idea, particularly given how a broken hip is generally the kind of injury you associate with elderly people falling over. Helite claims that five million elderly hips are broken each year, so the belt is designed to ensure they stay safe. Helite claims it absorbs 90 per cent of the impact, which significantly lowers the risk of any serious damage.

The only major downside to the Hip Air is that it costs $790 (£584, exact UK price TBA) and that gas canisters need to replaced after each fall ($50/£37 each, exact UK price TBA). It's pricey, but if you're worried about yourself or a relative falling and hurting themselves it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

The Hip Air is expected to go on sale in Europe this March. [The Verge | Engadget]

More Gadgets Posts: