There are lots of reasons to like Swedish women. They ride bicycles, for example. In Stockholm, 10 percent of all trips are made by bicycle.
Now comes one more reason: Two Swedish women have invented an invisible bike helmet.
Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, co-founders of the award-winning industrial design company Hövding, began looking for ways to improve on traditional bicycle helmets for adults after Sweden passed a law requiring children under 16 wear protective headgear.
First, they queried bicyclists about why they didn’t wear a helmet. Typical responses included:
“Pain to carry about.”
“They look hideous.”
“No one else wears one.”
“Ruin your hair.”
Haupt and Alstin admit themselves that they “wouldn't be seen dead in a polystyrene helmet,” and the thought they might be forced to wear one by law caused significant worry.
The “invisible” helmet is actually a collar for bicyclists, worn around the neck. The collar contains a folded up airbag (shaped like a hood) that inflates if a bicyclist has an accident. The company’s website explains that the collar’s trigger mechanism is controlled by hi-tech, battery-powered sensors, which pick up the “abnormal” movements of a person in an accident.
The collar itself is covered by a removable shell that be can changed to match different outfits (Swedish women are also fashion-conscious) and they say they’ll be launching new designs regularly.
The helmets aren’t cheap at $595, and work just once. Then again, cheaper than a car or a trip to the hospital — or worse. On the market in Europe for less than a year, the company said earlier this spring that its has been contacted by five people who say the device saved their lives.
Focus Forward Films, which has a project highlighting innovative ideas about how we live and the people who make them come true, profiled Haupt and Alstin in a cool, 3-minute documentary short.