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Sports Applications Technology

New Bicycle Helmet Airbag Offers Enhanced Protection

October 21, 2010


Twenty years ago, bicycle enthusiasts both young and old could be found riding all around without a care in the world what would happen to their head if they should happen to crash or be hit by a car.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and you would be hard pressed to find a rider of any age out on two wheels without a helmet. And, while the helmet materials found today can go a long way in protecting the individual in case of a collision, could there be a better choice?

A recent Gizmodo article focused on the potential of the invisible airbag helmet. The site includes information about the helmet, as well as a YouTube (News - Alert) video demonstrating how it works.

In the video, the “dummy” rider is wearing the invisible airbag helmet and is hit from behind. With the force of the impact, the helmet releases an airbag that surrounds the head and neck of the rider, protecting “her” from impact as she hits the top of the car that has surprised her from behind.

Known as Hövding, the design of this helmet is consistently described as "invisible.” While it may seem that way, in truth the airbag is just really cleverly hidden within the helmet itself.

The Hövding is actually a discreet collar that the cyclist wears around his or her neck. The collar contains a folded airbag which is visible only at a collision. The airbag is designed as a hood that in case of an accident will enclose and protect the cyclist's head.

The airbag has a release mechanism that is controlled by sensors that register abnormal movements of the rider in an accident. When the video is viewed, you see the airbag deploy once the shock reaches the area in which the airbag is contained.

There are some questions as to whether or not the airbag would deploy with minimal force and cause the rider to crash due to obstacles in the line of sight, or would the airbag cause burns and other injuries much like the airbag in a vehicle? These are real concerns if the current helmet in use is providing optimal protection already.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf