A new Swedish helmet, complete with airbags and fashionable enough to be a scarf, is a radical departure from familiar, bulky biking helmets on the market today.
But research shows that innovations in cycling gear could be very trendy in the near future. The inflatable Hovding Helmet, which is worn around the neck and is specifically designed for the cycling commuter, is already selling in Europe and is coming soon to North America.
Invented by two Swedish students, Hovding is covered by a removable shell that can be changed to match an outfit, and new designs will be launching all the time. Hövding is a practical accessory that's easy to carry around, it's got a great-looking, yet subtle, design – plus, it might save your life.
Sensors around the rider's neck can sense a quick or unusual movement and will trigger the helmet to inflate. The sensors read body movements 200 times per second, and when it senses danger, the Hovding helmet inflates like a hood.
There are some draw backs, however, as consumers can not repack the “air bag” once it is deployed.
The company that manufactures Hovding was recently honored at the Tribeca Film Festival, in partnership with the GE Focus Forward Film Series, which highlights innovative ideas, such as the ergonomic, practical, and subtle Hovding.
There are plenty of stats that tell us that wearing a helmet while cycling is a good idea. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2011 there were 38,000 cicyclist injuries, and 91 percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.
The US Department of Transportation conducted a survey in 2011 which found that the biggest area of accidents on bikes was in traffic. So even though only 5 percnet of the people surveyed were commuters, they were at the greatest risk. The Hovding helmet was designed specifically for commuters, and in test after test, the inflatable helmet rated higher in safety than traditional helmets, when it came to head injuries.
Airbag technology has been revolutionary in other sports as well, such as skiing and snowboarding, where avalanche airbags have a 90 percent survival rate when deployed in avalanches. The inventors of the Hovding helmets are already getting requests from other helmet-wearing sports, such as skate boarders, equine riders and winter riders.
If you just look at the traffic safety data from airbags in cars you can see that this company is onto something big.
It's hard to argue against innovation especially around safety.
Listen to the entire interview with Anna Haupt, inventor and co-founder of the Hovding Helmet on RadioBDC:
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