Ah, the Swedish. During a trip to Stockholm 10 years ago, I was blown away by how incredibly important and respected design is there — the Prime Minister himself came to the opening day of the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Designed by Swedes Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, Hövding is an inflatable bicycle helmet that is disguised as a stylish neck wrap. Geared towards cyclists who might avoid a typical hard helmet because it’s not stylish enough (silly, but true), warm enough (understandable in places like Sweden), or who fancy themselves immortal (vampires?), the Hövding collar is covered by a removable shell containing a folded up airbag that deploys when you have an accident. The ultra-strong nylon airbag, shaped like a sexy cyber-hood, has a trigger mechanism that is controlled by sensors – accelerometers and gyros — that pick up abnormal movements of a bicyclist in an accident.
The rechargeable airbag provides soft and effective shock absorption and maintains constant pressure for several seconds, making it able to withstand several impacts to the head in the same accident, after which it slowly starts to deflate.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of this helmet is that it actually has its own black box on board that will record 10 seconds of data on the bicyclist’s movement patterns during and just before the accident. The makers can then use this data in their ongoing research. The helmet sells for 2995SEK (approximately $450 U.S.), however Hövding’s site says it is unavailable until after summer. Do yourself a favor and wear your ugly old helmet until then?