Philly firm creates belt with airbags to help protect older adults

    (Khilko Marina/Bigstock)

    (Khilko Marina/Bigstock)

    As America’s population ages, demand is expected to increase for assisted living facilities, medical assistance and … air bags?

    Philadelphia-based company ActiveProtective has created a belt, designed especially for older adults and others at risk of falling. Airbags automatically deploy over the belt wearer’s hips when a fall is detected. Within a fraction of a second, the airbags cushion the hip area, reducing the impact.

    CEO Drew Lakatos said other technology had to come into use before the airbag hip belt could come to fruition.

    “Right around 2012 is when the first auto manufacturers started deploying a ‘cold gas’ or a ‘stored gas’ airbag. Which allows for cool inflation, safer inflation and for design specifically for applications where an airbag may remain against the skin for a long period of time,” he said.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    A lot of thought is going into the belt’s design, he said.

    “The largest area of effort on our part is coming up with a design that people find acceptable to wear protection like this. It’s a belt, it weighs less than 2 pounds, it’s easy to put on and take off,” Lakatos said. “The buckle was specifically designed for folks who may have reduced dexterity in their hands.”

    With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, the device also has the ability to alert caregivers if a fall occurs. Every year, one in three people over 65 will fall.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal