From scarf to ef­fec­tive head pro­tec­tor

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING -

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.

PHOTO: HÖVD­ING

A scarf that in­flates in mil­lisec­onds to pre­vent head in­jury in a fall has been proven ef­fec­tive in re­cent tests.

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