Pressure-Sensitive Carpet Can't Protect You From Tom Cruise

Hoping to provide a safer home environment for the elderly and those with diminishing mobility, a team of researchers at the University of Manchester have created a pressure sensing smart carpet that can detect and even predict when someone might fall.

The normal-looking carpet sits atop a layer of plastic optical fibers that bend and deform as someone walks across a room. These changes are then detected by sensors which allows a central computer to analyse the individual footsteps and cadence of a given person, looking for signs that their ability to walk might be diminishing over time leading to a possible fall. The software behind the smart carpet is even capable of learning and remembering the unique cadence of every resident in a home. So if a strange gait was detected in the middle of the night, it could automatically sound a burglar alarm. Unless of course the intruder went all Mission Impossible style, descending from the ceiling in an elaborately over-staged action sequence. Then it would be useless. [The University of Manchester via New Scientist]