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uPants - hip protection system

uPants is an almost invisible hip protection system designed to predict falls and avoid femur fracture due to falls.

Photo of Stefano Marchetto
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it enable older adults to live their best possible life by preventing falls?

uPants is a system designed to protect elderly people affected by osteoporosis against femur fractures. Among the consequences of a fall, the fracture of the upper part of the femur is one of the most serious since it takes to long recovery time and high post-trauma mortality. After a fall, the perceived safety level is greatly decreased and this takes to a reduced independence in the daily life activities. uPants aim is raising the independence level increasing actual and perceived safety.

uPants is composed by 3 element: 

  • a pair of energy absorbing and breathable hip protectors;
  • a pair of anti-bacterial and breathable pants;
  • a Bluetooth motion sensor. 

The first 2 elements offer passive protection against a fall, almost canceling the risk of a post-fall femur fracture. The pants-protectors system has been designed to offer the maximum comfort and hygiene standards. The pants can be "closed" (standard boxers) or "open" (like a diaper).

The motion sensor is meant to analyze the user's movements patterns in order to detect if a fall is close to come. In case the movements patterns are predicting a possible fall (unstable walking, slow reaction time, etc) a notification message is sent (through a mobile phone) to a list of contacts.
In case of a fall, the motion sensor sends an help message to a list of contacts and calls an ambulance.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

As every wearable device specifically designed for elderly people, the biggest issue for uPants is compliance: we've already tested 50 prototypes in an elderly care home with positive results (the system avoided 4 possible fractures and has been well tolerated by the elders), a bigger test with a wider range of subjects could help to refine further the product.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We're open to all kind of comments and suggestions from the OpenIDEO community. On the "physical" part we feel quite confident, but on the IT part we feel that some input could be helpful, in particular on the fall-prediction algorithm and the UI/UX of the related app.

How long has your idea existed?

  • Over 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

Tell us about your work experience:

Stefano Marchetto is an Italian life-quality focused designer with expertise in entrepreneurship: he has co-founded an healthcare company and a professionals network. With his own design studio he offers to companies a global consultancy, from product design to strategic design. More at

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Photo of Bradford Bleidt

Your idea is solid for seniors who have a risk of hip fractures from falling. For most older people, a hip fracture happens after a fall, usually just a fall from standing. 'Thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis) is the leading cause of hip fracture. If you have osteoporosis you are more likely to fracture your hip when you fall. Osteoporosis means that your bones have become less dense and more honeycombed. This makes them more fragile so that less force is needed to break them.
My concern is that in many cases the hip is so brittle that it fractures from standing-stress and then causes the fall. How will your device help in those situations?

Photo of Anya

This sounds like a great idea.
Unlike most passive protection gear, uPants is slim and won't interfere in an elder's every day life.
However, how accurate are the fall sensors? It is critical that these pants have a high accuracy rate in order to ensure full safety for its users.

Photo of FSA

Hi Stefano,

Your idea made me think of Hovdig - the bicycle helmet that inflates into an airbag when it detects the cyclist is falling down.

What if you were to add a similar feature like this to uPants so that when people fall they can fall onto a larger inflated bag. You can add this to the uPants, or even create belts or vests (since the elderly I know wear these two items) with this inflatable mechanism in it that will also detect and inflate when people fall. If possible, this could be paired with your idea of a detector that also alerts emergency contacts.


Photo of Spencer Yeh

Not sure how to link ideas, but this one shares elements with the Spanx / motorcycle gear protection mentioned in Fashion-Forward Bubble-Wrap Skirts to Absorb the Impact of Falls . Note: this is now carved out to its own idea in MotoSpanx 

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Stefano!

Thank you for sharing uPants

What are the dimensions for the ‘pads’? How much ‘bulk’ would they add to someone wearing clothing? It would be interesting to see what someone looks like with and without uPants on underneath their clothes.

Are you able to share some quotes from the older adults? What did they like? What did they dislike? What sort of level of compliance did you observe?

What is the delay between detecting if a fall is close to coming and the fall actually taking place?

Can you share the UI/UX of the related app?