Innovation That Matters

Wearable airbag protects the hips of the elderly

Sport & Fitness

Wolk adapt airbag technology to create a reusable wearable airbag especially for elderly citizens.

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Airbags have been protecting car drivers and passengers in dangerous collisions since the late 1980’s and we have recently seen a number of products which adapt the technology to protect those outside the car too. From the Hovding — a wearable airbag for cyclists in Sweden — to the Volvo V40 — which features an external airbag to shield pedestrians, companies worldwide are protecting a variety of at-risk consumers.

Perhaps most interestingly, sports apparel brand Dainese in Italy have been modifying airbag technology for each of their products — creating concentrated protection for the areas of the body most at risk depending on the consumer’s chosen activity. D-air Street, for example, is a motorcycle jacket that inflates upon collision, while D-air Ski is a ski suit which inflates to cover most of the skier’s upper body — but only when it detects a hard landing.

Now, the Wolk Company in Belgium have developed another specialized product, identifying and protecting the area most in danger for a different high-risk group — the elderly. Wolk — meaning Cloud in Dutch — is a wearable airbag for elderly people which is worn around the waist, fastened like a seatbelt and automatically inflates to protect the hip and lower back of the wearer when it detects a fall.

The product, which is in prototype stage, has been in development since 2012 and has the support of numerous healthcare professionals. A waterproof outer layer houses the reusable airbag as well as the PCP, electronics and a feedback speaker to ensure the Wolk is fitted correctly.

Wolk company have been reviewing the product alongside an advisory panel from their target group to ensure its wearability. Designer Drim Stokhuijzen explains that comfort is the priority — “Our challenge is to make this product become an extension of the human body. To make it as invisible and as comfortable as possible”. They plan to the launch the product in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Are there any other wearables which could be adapted to provide additional protection for fragile groups of society?



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