At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on 7 January, French company Helite launched Hip’Air, a safety product for the elderly.
Hip’Air is designed to prevent hip fractures. It is a wearable belt with a sensor and two airbags. Within 80 milliseconds of detecting the wearer is about to fall, the airbags on either side of the hip will inflate. Therefore, it has the potential of protecting the wearer of pain and danger associated with hip fracture.
The manufacturer claims that the air bags could absorbs 90 per cent of the impact of a fall, and it is nine times better at absorbing impact force than traditional protection pads.
The belt weighs around 2lbs and attaches with a simple click. The arrows on the belt show you the correct way to wear the belt.
Airbags prevent hip fracture 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 will need to be replaced for $50.
Most people I have talked to thought the price is 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? May be – if I participate in dangerous activities or sport. 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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