The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is giving us a glimpse into the future of technology. Held annually in Las Vegas, CES typically is home to new gadgets and technologies such as an updated high definition television or mind-blowing applications of the internet of things.
This year’s products do fall into those typical categories, high-tech electric concept cars, a 146” modular wall TV, autonomous drones, and even rolling luggage that can follow its owner all by itself.
But a new trend has started to emerge during this week's CES trade show. The safety and comfort of older adults is now front and center in the future of consumer electronics. Two French companies have attracted a lot of attention with new technologies that can help prevent falls and reduce the likelihood of severe injury following a fall. While an Israeli and Californian based robotics company has developed a voice-activated social robot designed to provide older adults company.
The Hip’Air protective airbags, E-Vone fall monitoring sneakers, and the ElliQ are a three of the show’s most innovative and popular products assisting older adults.
The French Company HELITE started developing the Hip’Air personal airbag system in 2008. HELITE had already developed wearable personal airbag systems for motorcyclists, horse-back riders, and skiers. Their team soon realized that this technology could help protect older adults during a fall. Following over 10 years of research, development, and testing the Hip’Air is scheduled to be available in the United States this Fall.
The Hip’Air offers the wearer consistent, optimal protection. HELITE developed a thorough algorithm that can measure, monitor and analyze the wearer’s general motion. The belt includes an internal gyroscope and accelerometer to determine the individual’s movement and to determine if the wearer is beginning to fall or merely walking.
A sophisticated algorithm will detect the wearer is starting to lose their balance and fall in 200 ms and can activate the belt’s airbags in 80 ms. Both of the belt’s lateral airbags will inflate before the wearer has a chance to reach the ground, protecting their hips from 90% of the impact force. Regular, typical wearable hip pads can only reduce the impact force of a fall by 10%.
The Hip’Air belt’s design combines their technology with comfort and convenience. The user must only wear the lightweight belt (2.2 lbs.) above their hips. A rechargeable battery powers the belt's catalyst. The rechargeable battery can hold a 15-day charge. The cell activates the HELITE’s replaceable gas inflator. Following inflation, the belt’s exit strong nylon cushions are folded up and returned to the belt's pockets.
Despite wearing two high-powered airbags around your waist, the Hip’Air is designed very similarly to a fanny pack. Its easy to use, belt clip style buckle allows for quick removal following a fall and emergency trips to the bathroom. The buckle’s LED light will indicate that the system is on and entirely charged. If the belt is not charged, the LED light will show a steady red. If the buckle is placed in backward or incorrectly a beep will alert the wearer.
During colder months, the Hip'Air can be work underneath jackets, pullovers, or coats. Covering the Hip's is only possible when the layer of clothing will not interfere with the Hip'Air's downward facing airbag deployment.
The Hip’Air is a fantastic solution to helping the 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 who will fall each year. Currently, twenty to thirty percent of these falls will result in injury and really in associated medical costs exceeding $30 billion. We hope that the Hip’Air’s high-level protection, comfortable ergonomic design, and ease of use will allow it to help reduce these startling statistics when it is released this Fall.
This decrease is a very distinct possibility with all of the Hip'Air's buzz and international news coverage during this week’s trade show (for example: Daily Mail, CNET, and IB Times). Another exciting product from this years show that can assist older adults with the fall issue is the E-vone sensing shoe.
Internationally recognized as a hub for high-fashion, the French company E-vone is preparing to release their full line of stylish, fall sensing shoes. They are available in 26 different colorful designs. E-vone has managed to couple high-tech with high-fashion.
Beneath the shoe’s high-grip sole, the E-vone shoes have included sensors and GPS to alert friends and family of a fall. The shoe’s accelerometer, pressure sensor, and gyroscope work together to determine if a fall has occurred.
For example, the sensors can identify the wearer is slipping or losing their balance. Then the sensor will detect if there is a lack of movement. Then if there is a lack of action by the wearer, the shoe will vibrate, alerting the wearer that a fall was detected. The wearer will then have a few seconds to cancel the E-vone’s fall alarm. If no response from the wearer, the shoes will contact the predetermined emergency contacts. Providing family, friends, and loved ones with critical GPS location information. When the point of contact has begun to respond or requested an emergency response the shoe will briefly vibrate reassuring the fallen individual that help is on the way.
The E-vone shoe's heel houses an incredible combination of sensors and communication technology. The GSM-compatible chip allows it to communicate wirelessly. The GSM technology means that no cell phone is necessary (in more than 120 countries) to alert loved ones following a fall. The GSM chip can independently contact others but for the shoe to identify the location of the fall a monthly subscription is required. The E-vone’s technology is very durable, with a separate line of boots applying this technology to help hikers stay safe in the wild and workers on the job-site.
Inspired by the lead designer’s independent, 79-year old mother-in-law Yvonne. Following a minor fall in her garden, Yvonne had started to lose confidence and worried about suffering a fall during her daily strolls through the French countryside and her regular trips across Europe. The E-vone team has developed an attractive, unrecognizable, safety net for active older adults. Offering both the shoe’s wearer and their loved one's priceless piece of mind when they are exploring Roman ruins or are taking the recycling to the curb. Another way to keep your friends and family connected remotely throughout the week is the ElliQ.
The ElliQ is the ideal artificial companion for older adults. Over 11 million Americans 65 and older currently live alone. Hald of women over the age of 75 lived alone. Older adult's social isolation linked to an increase in physical and cognitive decline. With the coming demographic shift, the rates of isolation and its related health risks will only continue to rise. Intuition Robotics has developed the ElliQ social robot to help assist this growing segment of older adults. The voice-controlled speaker market has provided seamless and hands-free assistance for routine daily tasks. Amazon's Alexa, Google Home, and Apple's Siri have offered many the opportunity to implement this new form of technology managing their routine and accessing applications hands-free. ElliQ is a step far beyond these broad, consumer-focused products.
ElliQ, currently in beta testing, has been designed for older adults with older adults. Its large screen will provide a customized hub to manage one's daily routine. Its pleasant voice can gently remind one about their appointments or medication reminders. Its platform can also arrange rides and coordinate communication with family friends. ElliQ can assist remote caregivers by scheduling a regular check in with your friend or loved ones. It also has the options to provide the loved one with information about your routine and environment (only if elected to). All this computing power without having to sit down and learn how to use each application. Its intuitive setup is made to eliminate any unneeded hassle or confusion.
The real power of ElliQ is its cognitive learning power. It can make suggestions for activities and content that will help one stay active, sharp, and engaged. ElliQ can suggest playing a game, watching a video, or even taking a walk based on their preferences and daily routine. Essentially, combining the latest in voice-controlled computing and cognitive computing to help older adults live their very best lives. Scheduled to be available early next year, the ElliQ can provide less tech-savvy seniors these powerful systems in an easy-to-use, intuitive, and friendly device. One of the early testers, Ben age 87, put it best "Every senior will have one in their home, a microwave, TV, and ElliQ."
It is very often easy to take a step back from new gadgets and gizmos as unnecessary compliments to daily life. However, the application of recent technological advances offers an unmatched opportunity to provide real value and essential safety to one's everyday life. While a new, larger, smarter, and higher definition television is a significant step forward for your next Super Bowl party.
These three new inventions at this years CES show are great examples of designers and scientists using cutting-edge design to overcome the many often overlooked challenges older adults face. We hope that the Hip'Air personal airbag system, E-Vone fall sensing shoes, and the ElliQ artificial companion are only the beginning.