One of the dangers of the elderly living by themselves is that if they were to fall or slip in the shower, it would be very hard for them to get help. This is why stay-in nurses exist, and why there are also assisted living facilities. However in the future perhaps those services may no longer be necessary, at least to a certain extent.
Thanks to a group of researchers at the EPFL, they have created a robotic exoskeleton that can be worn which can actually help prevent people from falling over. This is not a full exoskeleton but rather a partial one that only covers the upper thighs and hips over the wearer. Through a host of sensors, it monitors their movement and will be able to jerk the wearer upright should it detect that they are about to fall.
Dubbed the Active Pelvis Orthosis, the exoskeleton will be able to monitor the wearer’s normal gait and steps, and from there it will be able to determine if something is out of the ordinary which could imply that a fall is coming. The device is said to only take 350 milliseconds to respond which should hopefully be quick enough to prevent anything untoward.
Unfortunately the APO is still in the early stages of development which means that we probably won’t be able to expect it anytime soon. There is still work needed to be done on it, such as its weight which weighs in at 9 pounds which might be a bit too heavy for the elderly to be dragging along with them, especially when the exoskeleton doesn’t augment the wearer’s movements.