In our quest to find a folding bicycle helmet for use while traveling, Kathy made me aware of a new helmet technology that some (like me) will consider a titanic shift from the traditional bicycle helmet design paradigm – the invention of the airbag bicycle helmet – the Hovding. Invented by two students at the University of Lund in southern Sweden while working on their product design master’s thesis in 2005, the Hovding is a marvelous adaptation of airbag technology to bicycling.
For those who dislike traditional helmets (for a variety of reasons), the Hovding replaces somewhat clunky helmets with a scarf-like collar that automatically inflates in accident situations to protect the rider’s head. Skeptical? I was a bit at first too, until I watched the video of the tests conducted at an automotive research center.
Most fascinating of all, by using sensors and algorithms the Hovding is able to distinguish between an accident and an ordinary sudden movement by its wearer. How this is done is beyond my understanding, but that technology alone is quite impressive. The Hovding can remain operational for up to 18 hours between charges.
The Hovding’s technological advances do not come cheap – 300 euros each. But, if it saves even one life, the Hovding has proven its value. Currently, the Hovding is only sold in European retail stores, so those of us outside Europe will need to do some traveling.