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Watch: Chinese company designs wearable 'airbag' for the elderly

13 Jun 2019 euronews

A company in China has designed an inflatable belt to protect the elderly if they fall.

The belt works like an airbag in a car, which the company used to make, before realising the potential of catering to consumer demands from China's ageing population.

A micro gyroscope is used to detect the speed of the fall and angle of the wearer and a microprocessor is used to trigger the airbag.

Song Zhangxuan is the deputy manager of Suzhou Yidaibao Intelligent Technology Company, makers of the belt.

"There are two main problems we focus on," he said. "One is how to judge an older man's posture in real time, so how to tell when he is about to fall down. The airbag has to pop up before he falls down so he can be protected by the airbag.

"The second is how to deflate the airbag within 0.18 seconds. According to our statistic, an old man falls to the ground in 0.3 seconds, so technically the inflation has to complete in 0.18 seconds."

China's population growth rate continued to slow in 2018, spelling possible trouble ahead as a swelling number of retirees pushes up against a shrinking labour pool. Figures released in January by the National Bureau of Statistics put the population at 1.395 billion in 2018.

Care for the elderly is a rising government concern as the working-age population continues to fall as a percentage of the total.

Song adds: "According to our statistics, China has the biggest elderly population in the world, which is about 200 million. To roughly estimate, if we share 5 per cent of the market, that is nearly 10 million, which is a fairly big market for us."

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