Invisible, that’s what it is. Whilst working on their master thesis in industrial design in 2005, Swedes Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin hit upon an idea that would become quite the invention. A law had just passed in Sweden then, making it compulsory for all bicycle riders up to the age of 15 to wear helmets. The legislation immediately sparked debate in the country about whether or not helmets should be made mandatory for every one.
Hitting the streets for research, the ladies found that most people, while appreciative of the protection helmets provided, were put off by the impracticality of having to lunge around ugly helmets. It wasn’t the idea of protection people hated, it was the product itself. And so was born the Hovding, an invisible helmet that would protect your head, but not ruin your hair.
The Hövding is a collar like design worn around you neck and shaped like a hood. Built into it is an air bag, very much like the one in automobiles, and a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes. When the collar picks up an ‘abnormal movement’ in case of an accident, the air bag inflates and surrounds your head in under 0.1 seconds, thereby protecting you. The inflation is triggered by a small gas inflator which fills the collar with helium.
To stay protected though, the Hovding has to be powered throughout. A micro USB port helps charge it up, which, the company says, lasts about a month. The girls say the bag is even more protective than regular helmets because helium is soft. And that’s not all, each helmet is chipped with a ‘black box’, just like the ones in airplanes, which stores data about the accident.
For the true fashionistas who like to customise their looks, the Hovding comes with a removable liner so you can add ‘extra shells’ to suit your looks. Who says safety needs to be a compromise?
When is it available and for how much?
The Hovding invisible helmet is on sale now in Sweden and a few European countries. It is also available on the company’s website for Dh2,352 (converted from the Euro). Go to hovding.com for more.