The ABS Avalanche Airbag has saved dozens of lives since it was launched. The system works by inflating two gas filled sacks in the event of an avalanche. The extra volume keeps a victim on top of the slide. Statistics show that there is an exponential risk of death depending on burial depth. The ABS Airbag doesn’t solve two problems: protecting a victim during a fall and secondary avalanches.
Verbier (Swiss) based Snowpulse have developed a new airbag based system that addresses these two issues. the Life Bag consists of a 150 litre sack that inflates in less than 3 seconds and form a protective cocoon around the head of a victim. This keeps the victims head clear of the snow and helps protect the thorax and head keeping airways clear. The sack is designed to deflate after 90 seconds, creating an air pocket in case the victim has been buried by the slide. Like the ABS system the sack is still user triggered, a weak point as inexperienced users may have trouble using the device in the event of an avalanche. The Life Bag takes up just 3 liters volume in the skier’s rucksack and weights 1300 grammes.
Snowpulse has just one an award of 100,000 CHF from the W.A Vigier foundation that encourages start-ups. The money will help Snowpulse gain official approval for the Life Bag and launch the product next year. They hope to sell 80,000 - 100,000 units per year. Similar to the total market for avalanche beacons.