Two graduate students in Sweden have developed a new “invisible” bicycle helmet that uses technology similar to a vehicle airbag, according to NBC News.
The “invisible” bike helmet, which has been dubbed the Hövding, is actually not a helmet at all but a device that is worn around the cyclist’s neck. The Hövding is designed to shoot a protective, inflatable nylon hood around the rider’s head within one tenth of a second of impact.
The two grad students who designed the Hövding, Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt, did so because as cyclists themselves, they desired head protection that was more fashionable and did not ruin their hair.
Alstin and Haupt, who studied Industrial Design at Sweden’s University of Lund, began working on the “invisible” helmet in 2005. It took seven years for the two to engineer, refine and test the collar. Alstin and Haupt were even able to enlist the help of professional cyclists to develop the helmet.
“We had to simulate all known accidents,” Alstin told NBC News. “Everything from an icy road crash to getting hit by a car.”
The Hövding is able to monitor a cyclist’s movements more than 200 times a second using an inbuilt computer, sensors and gyro. There is a small gas canister located in the back of the collar that inflates a protective cover within milliseconds if the device senses a collision. In addition, the Hövding is capable of withstanding multiple head impacts during the same bicycle accident before it starts to deflate, because its air canister is able to maintain constant air pressure for several seconds.
“It’s actually three or four times better in terms of shock absorbance,” Alstin said. “And that’s the most important factor. It covers more of the head – including the entire neck – than traditional helmets.”
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Did you know?: Nearly 70 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents involve head injuries.
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