What is a fall detector and what do they do?
Simply put, a fall detector is an alert system by which people potentially prone to falling over can summon help, either automatically or at the press of a button. Generally, most people think of the elderly in connection with such systems, but the truth is that they also play an equally vital role in the care of anyone who might need assistance after a fall, from stroke sufferers to children with disabilities and so on.
The type of fall detector required very much depends on individual needs, so there are varying options available, from smartwatches that can sense a hard fall and call a pre-programmed emergency number, to entire eco systems for the home that allow for independent living while guaranteeing reassurance that help will be at hand if required.
So, whether the person in question is physically infirm in some way or suffers some form of dementia, the equipment exists to help friends and family respond to any emergencies and, if necessary, track their location using GPS if they have gone missing.
So, as you can see, it’s quite a broad field. Which is why for the purposes of this piece I’ll be focusing on solutions more aimed at the individual, which can be monitored or tracked remotely by a family member or social care professional, rather than the larger, all-enveloping systems. Although, if the latter is more along the lines of what you’re looking for, then I suggest you browse the website of Oysta Technology, as they offer some truly innovative and extensive options for keeping a concerned eye on, what they call, VIPs – Vulnerable Independent People.
For the rest of you, perhaps more protectively wary than constantly worried, I’ve compiled a round-up of reliable fall detectors and other assorted assistance options that will help you or a carer race to the rescue of anyone who needs, while still allowing for full dignity and independence.
Tunstall Vibby Fall Detector
Best for: automated call and response fall detection
A simple idea brilliantly realised, the Vibby from top trusted health tech brand Tunstall is one of the easiest ways to ensure that anyone liable to take a tumble will rapidly receive the assistance they need to get back up or, all being well, actually cancel the call for help with equal expedience.
An innocuous-looking wrist band, it contains a highly sensitive pressure sensor which can measure loss of altitude and speed, and also detect if a person falls from an upright position. This then sends out an automatic alarm via a Tunstall telecare hub (so you will also need said hub and a monthly subscription) to a monitoring centre or carer. Or, if the wearer feels like a fall might be coming on, they can activate it themselves, with an LED light and vibration mode confirming the command.
But what if the person requiring the Tunstall Vibby Fall Detector is – very much like my own parents – of the mind that they ‘don’t want to waste anyone’s time’? Well, should their pilgrimage down to the pavement prove to be something they can just dust off, the Vibby allows cancellation of the alert call simply by covering the sensor or standing again within 20-seconds.
Just one of many smart safety solutions from Tunstall, the Vibby is both waterproof and shock-resistant meaning it cane be worn in the bath and/or shower. It is also constructed from hypoallergenic plastic, features a replaceable battery and has auto low battery reporting. The wristband is also easy to set-up via the app, and it’s good for a 50m range from the hub.
Buy now, Tunstall
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Best for: smartwatch fall detection
Allowing someone who may have a propensity for occasionally succumbing to the effects of gravity to maintain their independence is essential. So, while specifically designed fall detectors from the likes if Tunstall or Buddi may be brilliant at what they do, they might not be a popular option with the younger or younger-at-heart. Which is where certain smartwatches can be worth more than their weight in gold.
Take the Samsung Galaxy Watch4, for example, packed with smart-tech that can do almost anything, whilst also monitoring body metrics, it also has a very handy fall detection feature built into it. Simply put, all you have to do is open the Galaxy Wearables app on your phone, enter Watch Settings, Advanced Features, then SOS and Detect Falls (or When hard fall detected), then allow permissions and enter the phone numbers you’d want your Sammy to automatically contact if it detects a hard fall.
Should you or the person you’ve set it up for suffer such an accident, the Galaxy Watch4 uses the display, audio and vibration to alert the owner and, if no action to cancel is taken within 60-seconds, it sends out the SOS. This relies on a Bluetooth smartphone connection.
Buy now £220.00, AO
EZVIZ AI C6
Best for: keeping an all-seeing eye on things
Taking fall detection in a different direction for a moment, rather than a wearable that is automatically or manually triggered, the EZVIZ C6 AI smart camera is an indoor camera that provides the perfect way to keep an eye on vulnerable family when you are not home.
With on-camera AI, the clever C6 2K+ identifies humans in an instant and even detects abnormal sounds, such as that of a fall, to add an extra layer of protection. What’s more, the camera will notify you when you are needed and even alert you if the noise level suddenly changes. Plus, if an incident has occurred, family members can also simply wave at the camera to initiate a video call to your phone.
Capable of automatically zooming in up to 4x to follow a moving object and with a 360° panoramic view, you can completely monitor any room without, you know, monitoring it, safe in the knowledge that should anything untoward occur, your EZVIZ C6 AI smart camera will immediately alert you.
Buy now £89.99, Maplin
Garmin Forerunner 945
Best for: sports fanatics with fall problem potential
I covered this watch quite thoroughly in my review of the best Garmin smartwatches, but one element I may have missed in my eagerness to express how impressive I found all the included smart body metrics, exercise routines, mapping and monitoring, is that it also comes loaded with safety features too.
Not everyone requires the same level of support when it comes to potential falls. There are those who live with brain seizures, such as epilepsy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t live a hugely active life. If the possibility of running into trouble arises, this watch is on hand.
Alongside all the sports tech ticked off on your wrist, the safety and tracking features also imbued in the Garmin Forerunner 945 means that should you encounter difficulty while out exercising alone, this particularly smart smartwatch will detect it and immediately report it to your designated contacts, complete with pin-point location information.
Everything the athletics enthusiast could ever need in one cool-looking watch, why take any running risks when you can have Garmin on guard?
Buy now £500.00, Garmin
Best for: smartphone-based fall detection safety
Stripping fall detection down to the bare basics, the Buddi Connect is a secure, waterproof wristband and app combo that automatically detects a hard fall and fires out alerts (via Bluetooth when out and about or Wi-Fi if at home). Working in conjunction with a smartphone, it sends the message to the numbers you have previously added to the Buddi Connect app.
This mean that alerts will not be sent if the wearer takes a dive while out without their smartphone, so it’s vital that both wristband and phone be kept in constant dynamic duo communication.
A service fee of £1.99/week (taken on a monthly basis) is charged for the ongoing use of the Buddi Connect app, but if additional monitoring support is required, then Buddi 24/7 Support is also an optional extra at an additional £2/week.
Available with a Standard strap size of 15-21cm and an XL strap size of 21-28cm., the Buddi Connect comes ready to wrap on any wrist.
Buy now £99.00, Buddi
Tunstall Minuet Watch
Best for: full fall protection independence
This is a person-trigger option that comes disguised (mostly) as a high-quality everyday watch. While the Minuet from Tunstall doesn’t feature all the flashing bells and whistles of the Samsung Galaxy Watch4, but if you have a family member who needs a little extra support and isn’t into all the smart stuff, then this tough-wearing, Swiss-designed, this ultra-reliable wrist or neck-based alarm system is the order of the day.
Keeping safety simple, when the user requires assistance all they need to do is press the alarm button on the watch face. The Minuet Watch will then send a radio signal to the Lifeline home unit or other Tunstall compatible telecare system, which then raises a call to the monitoring centre.
A simple solution that leaves the need to use an alarm solely in the hands of the user for pure alarm autonomy.
Buy now, Tunstall
Best for: smartphone-free fall alert assistance
The problem with relying on smartphone Bluetooth connections for fall alert backup is that, well, not everyone has a smartphone. This is generally the case with the opposite ends of the age spectrum, from the young to the old, so whereas the Buddi Connect is a great option for those sporting a smartphone, the Buddi Clip is the ideal aide for those who do not.
Clip-on or wear with a lanyard, the Clip features built-in panic buttons that can be pressed if the wearer gets into difficulties. Alerts raised are sent immediately to the Buddi 24/7 Support team, who will then call the Buddi Clip and attempt to speak with the wearer via the built-in microphone and speaker.
If the wearer is disorientated or unable to talk, the GPS-packing Buddi Clip allows the Support team to track the person’s location in order to get them swiftly to safety.
Naturally, a fee is charged for the 24/7 service, in this case £4.99 per week, paid monthly, but for allowing independence and creating absolute peace of mind, it’s a very small price to pay.
Buy now £150.00, Buddi