Fall Detection Technology: The Promise of Fall Detection: Is it all it promises to be?
Recently a few
companies have introduced medical alert systems with fall detection technology
built in to their wearable help buttons.
While this technology seems promising in cases where an individual falls and
loses consciousness before pressing the help button, there are some limitations
and concerns around this technology that should be understood before asking
seniors to use fall detection products.
How Does Fall Detection Technology Work?
detection technology is intended to notify the Command Center of a fall in the
disastrous event that a help button user is knocked unconscious. It comes in
How it works
detect and measure vibrations on the floor to identify a fall
cameras track and learn movement patterns
a surveillance system)
sensor detects and analyzes movement
a person’s movement with accuracy of intent is not easy. Fall detection
technology is reported to trigger what scientists call “false positives” –
instances when the alarm is triggered but not by a fall. For example:
still while taking a nap may cause the monitor to think that a fall has
tripping or a similar jerky movement may cause the monitor to detect a false
exercise may confuse the monitoring device and cause the false alarm
Who Benefits from a Fall Detection System?
Cell phones and notebook PCs have used
gyroscopes and accelerometers for a few years to shut down a device in case it
is dropped or knocked off a surface. However, use of fall detection technology
in senior alert systems is relatively new and is still being perfected.
who are in good health commonly cite two drawbacks of fall detection:
feels like I’m under surveillance.” Constant active monitoring by a
device can feel confining, even though it is meant only to help.
embarrassed and inconvenienced by the false alarms.” Nobody wants 911
emergency services bursting through the door while they are exercising or
taking a well-deserved nap.
seniors who are in poor health and have a history of knock-out falls, fall
detection may very well be worth the inconvenience.
Do I need a Fall Detection System?
answer varies based on the odds of the following:
- What is my risk of a fall in
which I am knocked unconscious or unable to press a button? If your risk is low, the
surveillance and inconvenience may feel like a nuisance compared to the
- If I fall and am knocked out,
what is the likelihood that someone will quickly help me? If you are likely to be helped
quickly by a real person, a fall detection system may be redundant.
- Would a POM (Peace of Mind) medical
alert button cover me in most situations of a fall? Like most safety decisions, this
is a judgment call. If you think our non-intrusive medical alert button
would take care of you in most cases, why not try it out?