FATE Project Website

Fall Detector for the Elderly

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The FATE system is intended to be the first affordable and reliable system capable of detecting falls both inside and outside home. The system consists of two main elements plus a series of secondary elements:

Main elements

  • A highly sensitive fall detector incorporating accelerometers, capable of running a complex, specific fall detection algorithm in order to provide accurate fall detection.
  • The telecommunications layer based in wireless technologies. It consists of an indoors telecommunications network based in Zigbee, a central computer (with or without Internet connection) and a mobile phone communicated with the central computer and the fall sensor via Bluetooth. All incidences and measures are stored in the server, so that they can be used as a monitoring data for the carers/doctors thus improving subject fall prevention and treatment. Once detected and confirmed, fall events are communicated by the mobile phone (or Internet, if this service is available) to relatives or health service providers (112) through the specific call centres set in every country/region/municipality.

Secondary elements

  • A bed presence sensor, which allows:
    • to dismiss false fall positives, that tend to happen if the person lies in the bud in a sudden way while wearing the fall detector
    • to control the time the person spends in bed to detect potential health problems or behaviour anomalies
    • to detect falls from the bed (as the user may decide not to wear the fall sensor during sleeping hours)
  • As an optional element, for persons suffering the significant gait difficulties, the system is also complemented by the i-Walker, an intelligent walker designed to detect fall risk for elders with significant gait difficulties.
Fall detector sensor


A great majority of falls in ageing people result from a combination of factors. The aging process itself is one of these factors. Other contributing factors include chronic health problems (diseases of heart, problems in eyes, poor vision, muscle weakness, dementia, arthritis,…), physical and functional impairments (lower extremity weakness, balance disorders), medications and alcohol abuse, and hazards and obstacles in the home (poor lighting, lack of bathroom safety equipment, loose carpets)

The complete system will improve the prevention of falls in affected ageing people for several reasons. Among others, the following list arises:

  • The automatic detection of a fall with very low error rate
  • The localization of where the fall occurred, facilitating the intervention
  • The improvement of the fear of falling (FOF) effect
  • The use of the iWalker when necessary for mobility improvement and eventual contribution to rehabilitation
  • The definitive improvement of the "long-lie" syndrome
  • The precise detection of falls for people with low cognitive problems like memory loses is a critical factor in order to prescribe a rehabilitation program


The future use of the FATE system involves the system being used by elder people living at their homes, or in old people residences. Therefore FATE is a completely user-oriented service. The developers of the different elements constituting the FATE system are well aware of the particular characteristics of elder people living (independently or accompanied) at their own homes. There are 3 characteristics of FATE that provide an exceptional added-value to the users:

  • No user intervention. Experience shows that the users diminish their adherence to a new technological solution, when the need of a constant intervention appears. In this project the users just needed to recharge the sensor during night and take the mobile phone with them when they are outside. All other functions are carried out automatically
  • Usable at home and outside. FATE extends the fall detection (operating range) outside home thanks to the inclusion of the mobile phone with direct communication with the fall sensor. Therefore, the potential falls are detected when the person is carrying out their normal daily life activities such as shopping, attending daily care centre, visiting relatives or just walking around the neighbourhood.
  • Great usability. The fall sensor has been designed to be light and comfortable. Total weight is 52 grams. The fall detector is worn directly over the skin, and is water resistant, so the user does not need to withdraw it before entering into the shower.


Considering the FATE system functionality, it is possible:

  • To establish a complete supervision network at home
  • To be sure that any abnormal situation should be detected by the system
  • To gain the advantage of the coordinated actuation of the different components
  • To add some more elements and sensors for ulterior updating of the service possible required performances. FATE system architecture is open, and it could evolve according the specific need of the user
  • To gain the concurrence of an important element (the iWalker) used for mobility help, and also for the mitigation of fear of falling in those very affected people


Roles Consortium

Project Acronym FATE
Project Reference 297178
Total cost: €4.41m
EC funding: €2.21m
Project start date 01/03/2012
Project duration 36 months
Project Coordinator University Polytechnic of Catalonia - CETpD, Technical Research Centre for Dependency Care and Autonomous Living
Contact Person

Dr. Joan Cabestany Moncusi

Rambla de l'Exposició, 59-69 08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain.

Tel. (+34) 934016742 / (+34) 609766001

E-mail: joan.cabestany at upc.edu