Introducing the Invisible Bicycle Helmet
According to Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, the main reason we don’t want to wear bicycle helmets is because we are vein. We don’t like how bulky they look, how they mess up our hair, and how the strap squeezes or chins. This is why the Swedish designers invented the ‘invisible’ bicycle helmet which they have named Hövding.
The idea came to the pair when a mandatory helmet law for children up to age 15 was passed in Sweden, with the possibility of it being extended to include adults too. If Haupt and Alstin were going to have to wear helmets then they wanted a helmet that would look good. They wanted it to be invisible.
After years of research and development they created the Hövding – a collar worn around the neck that contains an airbag that inflates during accidents. It works using internal sensors. According to their website, “Hövding can sense the cyclist’s movement patterns and will react in case of an accident. The unique airbag will then inflate, fixate your neck and provide the world’s best shock absorption.” Pretty ingenious.
Alstin explains: “We were aiming to do a product that was as safe as conventional helmets. But [helmets] are not really as safe as people think they are. But that has not been something that you want to talk about because there was no alternative before. Using the air bag technology we were actually able to set a completely new standard for safety in the bike helmet industry.”
So far, the Hövding is doing just that. When tested by a Swedish insurance company, the invisible helmet was shown to be a at least three times better at absorbing shock than conventional helmets. Furthermore, a study has found that cars tended to drive closer to cyclists if they saw that they were wearing a helmet; so the invisibility of the Hövding would cause drivers to take extra care. Its only disadvantage is that it can’t protect cyclists from direct hits like collisions with overhanging branches and street signs.
The other issue is its price. At €299 it is hardly cheap. In fact, it is more expensive than many of the bicycles we cycle. But a price can’t be put on safety, and looking good usually doesn’t happen for free