A couple of very clever Swedes have invented a new type of bicycle helmet that borrows from automotive airbag technology to offer urban cyclists abit more peace of mind. The Hovding is being presented as an ‘invisble bike helmet’ which can sense abnormal movement and inflate to protect the cyclists head in a collision. According to the images provided, it’s also being offered as a fashion accessory of sorts, since it boasts a variety of exterior linings to match any cycling outfit…Including cycling dresses?
Seriously though. This innovative new bike helmet is being called a ‘collar’ and it boasts some impressive features, including a USB port for charging and audible/visible indicators to let you know that it’s ready to protect. The USB port also allows the device to download ‘updates’ (if available) and for the on/off sounds to be changed. Notably, there is no MP3 player and headphone jack included for reasons that should be clearly obvious – except for those few and incredibly foolish people who would cycle in traffic, with the sounds of their surroundings blocked off by music in their ears.
In the case of a sudden accident, the Hovding is able to inflate in 0.1 seconds with a hood that would presumably provide more protection from low-lateral impacts that a normal bike helmet, and possibly even more protection from a forward impact – if indeed it holds enough transverse strength from front to back. Its cold-gas inflater (helium-driven) assures that there’s not the same thermal reaction during inflation, but it’s also not clear how loud this sudden inflation is, nor if the risk of abrasions are a factor as well.
It appears that this is a one-time use product as well. Since the makers have included a ‘black box’ to record the sensor activity during deployment, and ask that the Hovding be returned to them (to help with further R&D) in exchange for a discount on a new Hovding in return. The manufacturer is clearly paying a great deal of attention to customer service, and fashion-photography in selling their product, however if the Hovding were to ever become available in North-America, it stands to reason that the consumers will also want to see more hard facts around the force of impact that this accessory can withstand before shelling out for this soft looking safety solution.
Any thoughts on what else we need to know about the Hovding?
Questions and Concerns
- The scarf-like design is clearly better suited for cooler weather
(could fabric inserts make this the ultimate winter biking scarf?
- What kind of hats would interfere with the function of this ‘helmet’?
(Is it really suitable for winter riding then?)