It’s been seven years in the making, but the world’s first “invisible” bike helmet is now available for purchase. The brainchild of Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, two industrial designers from Sweden, the Hövding—Swedish for “chieftain”—is essentially a collar that deploys an airbag-like hood in case of an impact. Unlike regular hard-hat helmets, which the duo deride as “bulky, like a hard mushroom on your head,” the Hövding is designed to be unobtrusive. But the device is more than an expression of vanity. “An invisible bicycle helmet is a symbol of the ‘impossible,’” Haupt and Alstin say in the video. “If people say it’s impossible, we have to prove them wrong.”
NOW YOU SEE IT
Tucked within a removable shell in your choice of color and print, the collar springs into action when built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers detect motions typically associated with bike accidents. When the sensors are triggered, the nylon bag fills up with helium, taking only a tenth of a second to fully inflate, according to the duo.
When the sensors are triggered, the nylon bag fills up with helium in a tenth of a second.
The Hövding also includes a “black box” that saves 10-seconds-worth of data about the cyclist’s movements before and during a crash. (Haupt and Alstin ask that you send them the box after accidents, so they can continue to hone and improve the helmet.) Just one catch: current models retail at SEK 3998, or $600 in U.S. dollars. For safety reasons, the airbag is good for only one use, but returning a deployed or expired Hövding for recycling earns you a discount for a new one.
PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Inflatable Airbag “Collar” Protects Helmet-Free Cyclists From Broken Skulls