Wearable Technologies Conference was held in Munich last week where a number of futuristic wearable designs were shown off. Although most of the area was designated for the conventional sensors and wearables pertaining to performance tracking and cameras, there was this particular design that was able to stand out. The idea is still in preliminary stages and requires partners to materialize. Known as iGel protective system, it is a full-body airbag suit designed for protection against crashes and falling.
We have already seen many designers opting to take safety to a higher level and iGel protective system being headed by Dr. Wolfgang Müller-Adam, German trauma surgeon, is one of such approaches. It doesn’t settle down on an inflatable vest around the torso only but makes use of almost 20 individual units of airbags to give protection to head, lower body and torso. The design has been inspired from the hedgehog who is capable of rolling up into a protective ball. The doctor also hopes to incorporate the capability of forcing the body into a fetal-akin ball thus providing protection from injury in case of falling or crashing.
Similar to other airbag systems out there, iGel will also make use of a number of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) smart sensors in order to ascertain crash-level forces and would then automatically inflate itself around the wearer. Müller-Adam also plans to incorporate sensors that are capable of long-distance sensing, such as supersonic sensors and radar, to allow the suit to be able to sense if a crash is imminent.
It appears to be quite an amazing vision, however, it is only in its conceptual phase as of yet. Illustrations showed a minute central controller that was connected to the individual airbag actuators; a lot of working is still required in order to transform this idea into something realistic and that too in a comfortable manner.
Müller-Adam believes that provided with the necessary backing the unit can be prepared in about 1-2 years for elderly and others who live with a risk of falling. However, the motorcycle version will be ready in about 3-4 years. Let’s see if Müller-Adam finds the backing and is able to bring his project to life or not. Fingers are crossed for his endeavour.