Falls among the U.S. elderly population happen with alarming frequency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1 in 4 Americans age 65 and older fall annually. These falls result in over 800,000 hospitalizations and over 3 million emergency room visits. The CDC says falls are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries among older adults, and deadly falls are on the rise. The CDC predicts that by 2030, older adults in America will die from falling at a rate of 7 per hour.
Fall-detection technology could help bring some of those disturbing numbers down. One such solution is Sedimentum, a contactless, AI-based emergency system currently available as a subscription service in Switzerland. How does it work? First, you mount electricity-powered, WiFi-connected fall detectors in multiple rooms of a subscriber’s home. These detectors — each of which cover about 30 square meters — can distinguish between everyday activities, pets, and falls without a camera or microphone. If a fall is detected, contacts in a connected app receive an alert. If a contact doesn’t respond to the alert, a call goes out to a 24/7 emergency response operator.
But Sedimentum detects more than just falls; it picks up on inactivity and unusual behavior. If, for example, a subscriber goes into the bathroom and doesn’t come out, or doesn’t get out of bed around their usual time, the detectors will flag these irregularities and trigger an alert. With continuous learning, the system constantly refines its understanding of the subscriber’s daily life patterns. In the event of a false alarm, the senior can cancel the alert on their smartphone.
How does the detector monitor for falls without using a camera? Sedimentum has a proprietary chip for motion sensing, and their devices use electromagnetic waves that can sense a tenth of a millimeter of movement. AI software analyzes the data in real time inside the devices, with no need to send data to the cloud.
So how much will Sedimentum set you back? In Switzerland, the starter system costs around $60 per month, which includes three monitors and a 24-hour emergency response service, plus a $150 installation charge. We’ll have to wait to see what the U.S. prices are when Sedimentum comes to America in 2024 or 2025.