This self-inflating air-helmet was designed by Swedes Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin as a university thesis project. Meaning “chieftain” in Swedish, Hövding is a collar which contains the pretty amazing air, helium to inflate it and sensors which tell the Hövding when to fire. The sensor unit consists of gyroscopes and accelerometers which constantly monitor movement and deploy to bag when you’re in danger. The electronics are charged via USB (of course, and the firmware can also be updated via the same port) and you switch it on by zipping the collar shut around your neck.
With a car airbag, the time to fire is obvious – when impact is detected. But as you see in the video, there are many ways a cyclist can fall that look similar to normal, safe activities in other contexts (like doing an endo over the handlebars and falling forward is a lot like bending down to lock your front wheel, for instance). To eliminate false positives, Haupt and Alstin carried out extensive testing with both dummies and – amazingly – stunt men and women.
As a cyclist myself, I never go biking without my helmet. So why wear this instead of a helmet? Style is the first thing that comes to mind. You can change the covers of the collar to match your outfit, and you won’t get helmet head. But at the end of the day, wrapping this thing around your neck vs a helmet is kinda six of one…
One other nice feature: it learns from your past mistakes. When you hook up the hood to a USB port, you can choose to upload your deployments using an on-board “black-box” which keeps the last ten-seconds of sensor info in a buffer and saves it to memory on impact. This information is then aggregated to improve the performance of the software.
[via Wired Gadget Lab]