Imagine the scene in Jurassic Park, where the dinosaur’s massive footsteps cause ripples to appear in a cup of water. Human footsteps create vibrations as well.
“So when people walk around we sense the vibration caused by each footstep, to identify and localize and get different gait patterns out of it,” said Hae Young Noh, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who is developing the sensor.
Noh said walking patterns are a bit like fingerprints, because they’re different for each person. When someone is about to fall, their walking pattern changes; they might take two quick steps in a row.
For a year and a half, Noh’s team measured the unique walking patterns of patients at Baptist Homes.
“If we can look at the pattern in the past and predict what’s going to happen, then you can prevent before it happens,” she said.