Hip protecting airbags

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on 7 January 2018, French company Helite launched Hip’Air, a safety product for the elderly.

Hip’Air, a hip-protecting airbag, is designed to prevent hip fractures. It is a wearable belt with a sensor and two airbags. The airbags on either side of the hip will inflate within 80 milliseconds of detecting the wearer is about to fall. Therefore, it can potentially protect the wearer from pain and danger associated with hip fracture.

The manufacturer claims that the airbags could absorb 90 per cent of the impact of a fall and are nine times better at absorbing impact force than traditional protection pads.

The belt weighs around 2 lbs and attaches with a simple click. The arrows on the belt show you the correct way to wear the belt.

Wearable hip protecting airbags for preventing hip fracture

Hip-protecting airbags prevent hip fractures when deployed (diagram from Helite’s website)

The device will be available for orders in March across Europe and in the US in September. It will sell in the US for around $800. Please note that each time the airbags are deployed, a gas canister must be replaced for $50.

Most people I have spoken to thought the price was prohibitive. However, when you consider the human cost and financial cost of hip fracture, the use of the device may be justified for those elderly who are very vulnerable to falls.

Would I get one for myself? Maybe – if I participate in dangerous activities or sports. But I don’t think it is something I would wear to go about my daily life. It is probably too bulky to wear under clothes.


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