By: Allan Siegel
Swedish inventors have created an invisible bike helmet that is worn as a fashionable collar. The Hövding air bag collar system stemmed out of the inventors dislike for standard helmets. They, like many adults, did not wear standard helmets because they are bulky, uncomfortable, and ugly. After seven years of research and an investment of $15 million dollars, Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt, have created what they believe to be a much safer helmet system.
The system contains sensors which, in a fraction of a second, trigger the air bag to inflate in response to crisis situations. Compared to the standard Styrofoam helmet, the air bag covers a larger part of the head and provides a superior shock absorbing cushion. Creator, Terese Alstin, states that the Hövding system provides five times more shock absorption than standard helmets.
The drawbacks of the Hövding are the costs and need for batteries. The system currently costs approximately $546, but the inventors hope to lower the price point as the company expands. The air bag collar is also powered by lithium-ion polymer batteries, which must be recharged. Each charge yields about 18 hours of use, and an indicator will alert the rider when the charge is low. A cyclists in Stockholm sang the Hövding praises after walking away with minor scratches and bruises when she crashed her head into icy pavement. She said it was like "landing on air."
While the device is not recommended for activities outside of cycling, such as skiing or snowboarding, 70 customers have reported satisfaction with the product after experiencing a crash. As this device appears to be safer than standard helmets for cyclists, we hope to see it soon on the streets of the D.C. Metro area.