An article on NPR talks about an invention where you can wear a bike helmet and still look perfectly coiffed. Say goodbye to uncomfortable chin straps and helmet hair. Hovding, the “invisible” helmet is the brainchild of Swedish designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin. Instead of wearing a shell, which is the traditional helmet, this invisible helmet is an airbag – one that is tucked away in a collar that cyclists can fasten around their neck. When the collar’s internal sensors detect a specific combination of jerks and jags, which means that an “accident is happening,” the airbag deploys sending out a head-hugging air cushion in a tenth of a second.
Pros and Cons
A Swedish insurance company conducted safety tests on the Hovding, which showed that the invisible helmet was at least three times better at absorbing shock than conventional helmets. Hovding’s weakest feature may be that it cannot protect riders from direct hits such as overhanging branches and street signs. Hovding has not yet been approved for sale in the United States and must seek and obtain the blessing of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
There are still some issues that need to be worked out. First, the cost of the invisible helmet can be intimidating at $535 a piece. Also, while a thick collar may work in chilly Sweden where cyclists commonly wear scarves, it may not work in California and other warmer locations. The inventors are thinking about developing a shell that would have a cooling system inside.
California Vehicle Code Section 21212 prohibits persons under 18 from riding or being a passenger on a bicycle without wearing helmets that meet specified standards. Riding a bike while wearing a strapped helmet that fits well is the best way to protect your head in the event of a crash. Some of the most common types of injuries suffered in bicycle accidents are traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord trauma, which can be prevented and/or minimized by using a proper helmet.
As personal injury attorneys in California who represents victims of bicycle accidents, we are strong proponents of bike safety for children and adults alike. While an invisible helmet is a novel and interesting concept, it must be thoroughly tested to ensure that it has the ability to protect bicyclists from serious injuries.