Sweden is one of the most bicycle-friendly countries in the world, so it's perhaps little surprise that it is also the birthplace of one of the most innovative bike inventions: a virtually invisible helmet that isn't really a helmet at all... it's a collar with an airbag.
While hats can be flattering on some, bicycle helmets tend to be more utilitarian than chic. And while there are those that can look good in a bike helmet, the vast majority of us don't and that means that bike helmets do not get worn as much as they should. And that means more serious accidents.
In 2005, two bright young Swedish university students, Anna Haupt and
Terese Alstin, came to this fairly obvious conclusion and decided to try
and do something about it. The invention was initially created as part
of a thesis project for their Industrial Design master's degree at
the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University in Sweden.
years of intense research they have developed what is to all intents and
purposes an invisible bicycle helmet: the Hövding.
Hövding is the Swedish word for 'chieftain', but it is also means 'headed'.
The Hövding contains accelerometers that detect unusual acceleration movements (heralding an imminent accident) and deploy the airbag if the movement patterns match the profile of a crash. Each Hövding contains an aeroplane-type "black box”, which records the accelerometer data 10 seconds before a deployment so it can be used for future improvements.
The Hövding is really an airbag worn around the neck like a scarf and deploys around the cyclist’s head when he/she has an accident. The device has been tested extensively on crash-test dummies and a sophisticated algorithm was developed to ensure that the airbag opens up quickly when required.
The Hövding collar is constructed of a waterproof material and has interchangeable fabric shells that allow colour customisation.
The Hövding is activated by a sophisticated electronic device, which is rechargeable via USB, which uses sensors to detect dangerous changes in motion and instantly inflates using a small canister of helium. It is turned on/off simply by zipping/unzipping and buttoning/unbuttoning the collar.
This award-winning invention definitely has a bright future and is an inspiring example for young (and not so young) entrepreneurs everywhere. As the two Hövding founders reveal: “We may be a small company but we think big and we aim high. Delusions of grandeur are exactly what it takes!”
For more information, please visit: www.hovding.com