Could an innovative inflatable cycle helmet, worn like a collar around the neck, be the future for horse-riding headgear?
The invention is certainly no idle concept, never likely to see the light of day. It was last year declared “best in test” by insurance company Folksam in its assessment of cycle helmets, and the firm behind the innovative new design, Hövding, has brought the design to market.
The airbag module clips on around the neck, removing the need for the conventional hard-hat design normally worn by cyclists.
The module has a changeable shell, meaning wearers can accessorise it to match whatever else they are wearing.
The collar contains a folded airbag, which inflates and protects the head in the event of an accident.
It contains sensors that pick up the abnormal movements of a cyclist in an accident, triggering the airbag.
The airbag is said to inflate in a tenth of a second and is fully inflated before head impact. The inflated bag shrouds the head in a hood, protecting it from impact injury.
The airbag technology protects the cyclist’s head more effectively, its developers say, asserting it provides the best shock absorption in the world.
The helmet is the brainchild of Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, who came up with the concept for their master’s thesis at the Industrial Design at the University of Lund.
The project progressed, and Haupt and Alstin ultimately put together a team of 17 to develop the helmet. It has been many years in development.
The Folksam testing last year involved 13 popular helmets for adult riders, and involved more rigorous tests than required by Swedish law.
The test showed that Hövding was by far the best cycle helmet.
“Hövding was more than three times as good as the best conventional cycle helmet,” said Helena Stigson, traffic researcher at Folksam.
All helmets were subjected to impact testing at 25kmh, instead of the legally required 20kmh under regulations.
“We have always known that Hövding has incredibly effective shock absorption capacity,” said Haupt.
“The helium gas protects like a thick air mattress around the head, so the blow is very soft and mild. It feels incredibly good that this has now been confirmed by a major insurance company,” she said at the time.
Now, the company is to represent Sweden in the European Business Awards in the International Entrepreneur of the Year category.
The airbag helmets are available to buy in the company web shop, www.hovding.com, and in selected stores in Northern Europe, including selected design and fashion shops in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.