From scarf to effective head protector
SWEDISH company Hövding is selling a scarf that uses sensors to deploy an air-bag helmet when you’re about to crash.
The air-bag-packing scarf uses sensors to detect possible impact and inflate itself in milliseconds.
The air bag is designed like a hood and made in an ultrastrong nylon fabric that won’t rip when scraped against the ground. Hövding protects nearly all of the head, while leaving the field of vision open.
The inflated air bag covers a much larger area than a traditional cycle helmet and is designed according to current accident statistics. The protection is greatest where it is needed most and the air bag provides extremely soft and gentle shock absorption. The pressure remains constant for several seconds, making it able to withstand multiple head impacts during the same accident. After that the air bag slowly starts to deflate.
The gas inflator that inflates the air bag is placed in a holder in the collar on the cyclist’s back. Hövding’s gas inflator is a so-called cold gas inflator that uses helium. Hövding started out in 2005 as a master’s thesis by the two founders, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, who, at the time, were studying industrial design at the University of Lund.
The idea of developing a new type of cycle helmet was a response to the introduction of a law on mandatory helmet use for children up to the age of 15 in Sweden, which triggered a debate on whether cycle helmets should be mandatory for adults too. Haupt and Alstin saw their master’s thesis as an opportunity to find out whether it would be possible to develop a cycle helmet that people would be happy to wear — whether they had to or not. The project resulted in the concept of an air-bag helmet, which won Innovationsbron’s Ideas Grant. This kickstarted the process of developing Hövding into a real product. In 2006, Hövding won the Venture Cup, after which Hövding Sweden AB was founded.
David Camarillow, assistant professor at Bio-engineering at Stanford University, have since crash tested the scarf in standard 2,1-metre falls compared to conventional foam-rubber helmets, and said it reduces impact by a factor of five, because the air bag is larger and softer.
A scarf that inflates in milliseconds to prevent head injury in a fall has been proven effective in recent tests.