When deflated, it looks somewhat like an oversized scarf
It took seven years of research and development, but the folks at Hovding have finally finished making the eponymous helmet, or should we say helmet-that-isn't.Put simply, the helmet is actually a scarf-like accessory that automatically inflates itself, like an airbag, when someone falls off their bike.
This is a sort of response to how often people go for a ride on their two-wheeler and leave their helmet at home because it's ugly, large, bulky or any combination of the three.
Two women at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University in Sweden designed it, saying that they "wouldn't be seen dead in a polystyrene helmet."
And since being seen dead without one was more likely after a bike ride gone wrong than if they had one on their head, they came up with an alternative.
We suppose that if people can bring themselves to wear hats that look like giant wedding cakes, there are people whose fashion sense allowes them to be more comfortable with a strange scarf than a helmet.
Anyway, the Hovding works by analyzing information received from a set of accelerometers and gyrometers.
When the wearer's ride degenerates into an accident of some sort, the “helmet” fills with helium and becomes an airbag.
An onboard battery provides the power needed to pump the helium properly. It can be recharged over USB (universal serial bus).
Anyone can order one of these bike “helmets” here, but they'll need to be willing to part with $600 / 461-600 Euro. An extra $75 / 57-75 Euro will get them shells that change the style of the scarf.
It may not be to everyone's tastes, and it might be too expensive for most people, but it is still a product that can save lives, and after seven years of development and hiccups (at one point, sales started but were recalled due to a collar zipper flaw), it is good to finally see it out.