Detection of pre-impact falls from heights using an inertial measurement unit sensor

Youngho Kim, Haneul Jung, Bummo Koo, Jongman Kim, Taehee Kim, Yejin Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Many safety accidents can occur in industrial sites. Among them, falls from heights (FFHs) are the most frequent accidents and have the highest fatality rate. Therefore, some existing studies have developed personal wearable airbags to mitigate the damage caused by FFHs. To utilize these airbags effectively, it is essential to detect FFHs before collision with the floor. In this study, an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor attached to the seventh thoracic vertebrae (T7) was used to develop an FFH detection algorithm. The vertical angle and vertical velocity were calculated using the inertial data obtained from the IMU sensor. Forty young and healthy males were recruited to perform non-FFH and FFH motions. In addition, experiments using a human mannequin and dynamics simulations were performed to obtain FFH data at heights above 2 m. The developed algorithm achieved 100% FFH detection accuracy and provided sufficient lead time such that the airbags could be inflated completely before collision with the floor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5388
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Complementary filter
  • Detection algorithm
  • Falls from heights
  • Inertial measurement unit
  • Wearable airbag


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