A team at the University of Manchester in the UK has developed a carpet that can detect when someone has fallen over or when unfamiliar feet walk across it.
Optical fibres in the carpet’s underlay create a 2D pressure map that distorts when stepped on. Sensors around the carpet’s edges then relay signals to a computer which is used to analyse the footstep patterns. When a change is detected – such as a sudden stumble and fall – an alarm can be set to sound.
By monitoring footsteps over time, the system can also learn people’s walking patterns and watch out for subtle changes, such as a gradual favouring of one leg over the other. It could then be used to predict the onset of mobility problems in the elderly, for example.