It would seem excessively futuristic to imagine an invisible helmet that is actually capable of effectively protecting our heads, but that is just what Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have done.
Responding to those who said it was impossible, fashion-savvy Haupt and Alstin say “they have to prove them wrong.”
Telling ABC news about how it had become mandatory in Sweden – as it has in many North American jurisdictions – for cyclists to wear helmets, Haupt posits that the two inventors “wanted to see if there was a way to change today’s helmets,” so that people would wear them “by free will, not by law.”
The solution? The Hövding. Posing as a collar, the Hövding is actually able to transform itself into a helmet. Designed as an industrial design thesis project by the two students from Lund, Sweden, the Hövding is meant to provide a trendy alternative to the clunky helmet culture associated with cycling.
Each helmet is fitted with a technology known as the “black box”. Recording the movements of the cyclist, the black box recognizes the angles and velocity during an accident. Inflating the helmet with helium in 0.1 seconds, the gas inflator anticipates an accident is triggered by the black box instantaneously beforehand. The helmet needs to be charged however, and each charge lasts about one month.
With a price tag of $600 - $700, the Hövding isn’t cheap. For sale in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, central Europe and Australia currently, this invention is making consumers question the true cost of “helmet head”. Europe’s cycling culture is looking like a positive market for the adoption of the invention, however, and already the Hövding has become a staple for young fashion-forward trendsetting cyclists.
It is not for sale yet in Canada and marketing specialists here such as Jeremy Axon are not convinced it will meet North American safety standards – which are generally more stringent than their European counterparts. Nevertheless, the inventors are optimistic and ultimately, the Hövding is a step – or a peddle – in the right direction. Hopefully, the invention will be making its Canadian debut in 2014, with the United States sure to follow suit.
After all, if we can be environmentally friendly, healthy and avoid the infamous “hair puff” destruction while biking to work, maybe a car free future is closer than we think. Hats – or rather, helmets – off to the brainy students in Lund. Rumour has it that the new “Editor-in-hövding” for Swedish Pressis planning to import one or two even before they have been officially approved in Canada.