Over the years, there have been a lot of failed attempts at making the bike helmet more attractive. These for instance. Problem is, there really isn't an effective way that I've seen to make a big hunk of foam and plastic a fashion accessory. Cyclists have had to basically suck it up in the name of safety, which is okay because many also wear hideous ball-hugger shorts, a far more serious transgression.
Well, a new device called the Hövding may have just solved the problem in an innovative way. More of an airbag for your head than a helmet, the Hövding is a protective collar that just sits around your neck. Accelerometers in the device detect abnormal speeds and motion, and the thing pops out to protect your head in the event of an incident. It reminds me a little bit of avalanche airbags used for backcountry skiing.
Yeah, I didn't really think it would work either. But below you can watch some test video in action. It makes a strong, if not entirely convincing case for the head gear.
I have a few issues with the design. The primary being that since it wraps around your head in one direction, it seems like if the collar slipped or moved around, it could leave part of your head vulnerable. I'd also have a natural fear of riding around with a loaded air cartridge strapped to my neck. And finally, couldn't you see this thing going off in other incidents besides bike crashes--say if somebody accidentally bumped into you? That would be kind of weird and embarrassing.
Despite a few qualms, this design is pretty promising. Maybe one day soon we'll actually be able to get the protection of a helmet without having to wear a big turtle shell on our heads.
The Hövding was designed by industrial designers Anna Hauptmann and Terese Alstin over the course of six years.
David Report via TreeHugger