It’s been all over the news recently: two Swedish design students, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, have created what they call an “invisible bike helmet.” This description is a little misleading. The Hövding, as it’s been branded, is not invisible so much as it’s contained, in a puffy, high tech collar, as an airbag that deploys upon impact and protects the wearer from the typical head trauma cyclists suffer in accidents.
Working with a head trauma specialist and staging accidents to collect movement patterns, Haupt and Alstin defiantly took on what they saw as a male-dominated design establishment. “Easy,” they say, “it only took us seven years.” They raised ten million dollars and pushed forward with a certain amount of Scandinavian bravado. The short doc above opens with a few quotes from the pair. “We’re going to save the world,” they tell us, “it’s chicken to be a realist.” Upon seeing their design, they say, a professor remarked (in English), “I have to sit down… you’re going to be millionaires.”
Haupt and Alstin’s bombast is seductive, but the product may not live up to the hype quite yet. As Tech Crunch reported last year, “Hövding costs $600 and only works once. There’s also been some complaints about the design and an early version had trouble with the zipper.” Nonetheless, it’s still an amazing invention that will only improve with future real world testing. At present, it could save the lives of those well-heeled cyclists who can’t stand to wear clunky, traditional bike helmets. In Europe, at least, where the helmet is currently for sale and safety approved.
The video above was made by director Fredrik Gertton, who has successfully Kickstarted an advocacy film he calls Bikes Vs. Cars that seems well worth a look for those concerned about the future of urban transportation.