Full- body airbag for bikers
LAST week’s Wearable Technologies Conference in Munich showcased the future of cuttingedge wearable design.
While much of the exhibitor area was dedicated to usual suspects like performance- tracking sensors and wearable cameras, there was one design that immediately stood out. Still just a rough concept in need of partners, the iGel protective system proposes a full- body airbag suit for protecting motorcyclists, bikers, skiers, and other hobbyists and professionals.
Current- generation wearable airbags, including the Alpinestars Tech- Air Street airbag system that won a Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup award at the conference, use sensors to detect a crash and inflate in milliseconds, protecting the vital bones and organs of the upper body with a layer of cushioning. In concepts like the Safety Sphere, we’ve seen that some designers think the protection level could be dialled up a lot higher.
It may not look quite as dramatic as the Safety Sphere, but the iGel protective system, a project headed by German trauma surgeon Dr Wolfgang Müller- Adam, envisions a similar level of protection. Instead of a limited inflatable vest around the torso, the iGel system would use up to 20 individual nitrogen- activated airbags to protect the head, torso and lower body.
Inspired by the hedgehog’s ability to roll into a protective ball, Müller- Adam also imagines the actuation of the system pushing the torso and lower body into a fetal- style ball, further helping to mitigate against injury. Just imagine the difference between flailing around and smashing into the ground or another vehicle without any protection versus rolling into the crash or fall as an airbag- covered ball.
Like other airbag systems, the iGel would use a series of microelectromechanical system ( MEMS) smart sensors to detect crash- level forces and automatically inflate around the wearer.
The iGel is an intriguing vision for the future of protection, but there’s a lot of work to do to turn this concept into a product that works as advertised and is comfortable to wear in real- life scenarios.
Given the proper backing, Müller- Adam believes it will take about one to two years to ready a simple, low- speed iGel protective system, similar in aim to ActiveProtective’s system, for use by the elderly and others at risk of falling. We’re still at least three to four years away from the more technical high- speed motorcycle version. In addition to the elderly and motorcyclists, iGel mentions equestrians, skiers, construction workers and soldiers as possible target demographics for the technology. — Gizmag. com.
This wearable full- body airbag is the vision of a German trauma surgeon who was inspired by a hedgehog’s ability to tuck into a ball.