“To people like us, who wouldn’t be seen dead in a polystyrene helmet, the thought that we might be forced to wear one by law was cause for concern,” Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin say in a post on their site. “Producing a bicycle helmet that people would be happy to put on looked like a much better way to go than legislation forcing people to wear one or else. ”
In 2005, Haupt and Alstin began a project for a duel master’s industrial design course. After asking local cyclists in Sweden what they would want the new-age bicycle helmet to look like, the two women came to a conclusion; “An invisible bicycle helmet. That wouldn’t ruin your hair.” So began the design of a blow-up bicycle helmet that is housed in a pouch wrapping around the cyclists neck. At first glance, this ‘invisible’ helmet looks like a puffy ski jacket collar; but inside the pouch holds electric sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers. With this technology Hovding (the new bicycle helmet) can detect a bike wreck occurring and deploy an airbag that immediately surrounds the bicyclists’ head. When Hovding’s sensors are alerted the nylon bag inside the casing fills up with helium gas, thus inflating the helmet in only one tenth of a second.
Hovding’s collar is currently available in a basic black casing or a colorful paisley design and is being priced at hefty $600; more fashionable than that of an everyday bicycle helmet, still safe, but not so cost effective at this time. Will Hovding become the next big thing in bicycle safety and fashion? Maybe so, maybe not so much; we’ll have to ride it out and see.