By Jenny Wilson
Posting in Architecture
Invented by two Swedish women, the Hövding bike helmet keeps fashion-conscious cyclists safe without compromising their appearance.
Invented by two Swedish women, the Hövding bike helmet keeps fashion-conscious cyclists safe without compromising their appearance. Designed to inflate over your head in the case of an accident, the "helmet" takes the form of a collar during regular use. Sitting around the neck, it's intended to blend in to clothing and prevent the oft-feared fashion faux-pas: helmet hair.
Underneath the collar is the airbag, which will balloon up around the rider's head if it senses a crash, powered by a helium gas inflator. It uses rechargeable battery-powered sensors to detect abnormal, crash-like movement and then sends a signal to the inflator, which launches the giant puffy hood made of nylon and able to survive contact with concrete. It acts quickly in the case of an emergency by inflating in .1 seconds and is designed to withstand multiple impacts before it deflates.
Hovding's website claims that intense research and testing has gone into ensuring that the helmet (Human collar? Space hat?) can distinguish between crash and non-crash situations, but it does beg the question: what happens in the case of a near-crash when a cyclist could probably get the bike under control? It seems that it might be a bit distracting to have an airbag inflating over your head, even if it doesn't interfere with your visibility. Secondly, while the Swedish models may be able to pull it off, I'm not so convinced that a giant collar around my neck is more fashionable than a helmet, even if I can change the shell to match my outfit.
Still, the technology is very impressive and it does not seem to compromise safety at all. ABC reports that 20 people have been in real biking accidents and found it 100 percent reliable. So if it's something that people really would be more inclined to wear than a traditional bike helmet, it would be a valid replacement. Right now, it's only available in the EU and runs at about $600, but if interest continues to grow the company may expand and begin offering it elsewhere as well.
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Aug 25, 2012
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Are the "helmet Nazis" who assume that EVERYONE is safer with a helmet than without one. I say not so. I rode bikes exclusively for many years, and NEVER (with one exception) got in front of a car. For one thing, I road at night, For another, I NEVER got between a line of parked car-doors and a traffic lane (MOST bike lanes are put into this death-zone). The one time was an outlier, and it was funny -- the driver oozed around a corner while looking in the other direction (and me standing astride my bike in the crosswalk, watching him), and finally looked my way AS I let myself fall onto his car hood. Myself and my bike were fine, but the driver was mortified. Now, I fell many times when underway, but only onto the scenery, and never into a vehicle. And I became so good at falling, that the most I got were scrapes and one collar-bone fracture. In other words, I LEARNED my defense against fall-damage. And I hated, and still hate, helmets, simply because they cut off one's vision, and add mass to the head, which must CONSTANTLY be scanning the environment for situational awareness. Mirrors are no substitute for actually SEEING what is behind you -- especially when one is not in the middle of a rolling cage of steel.
I love it. I would think that these will catch on, especially if they are accepted by the insurance agencies. More cyclists, motored or not, wearing them will be a help to everyone. Technology put to good use. Thanks! Hope they catch on in the USA now.