The Invisible Bike Helmet: Symbol of the Impossible
<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/43038579″>The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Whether or not to pass a law requiring cyclists to wear bike helmets is a hot topic around the world. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 91% of cyclists involved in fatal bicycle crashes in the US in 2009 were not wearing a helmet. It also states that not wearing a helmet increases one’s risk of head injury by at least 85%. And yet every year people are injured in bike accidents because they chose not to take this preventative measure. But why?
At least one reason (albeit a vain one) we could all agree on is helmet hair just doesn’t look good on anyone. And when you are riding from home to the office, a hat doesn’t always work. Not to mention how silly bike helmets look while riding across town. If only there was a way to look good while being safe on wheels.
“Cars are so yesterday. Bikes are the future.”
– Terese Alstin
Two Swedish designers, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, spent seven years on the impossible: an invisible bike helmet, the hövding. They teamed up with a head trauma specialist, studied movement patterns of bike crashes and normal riding, and raised 10 million dollars in venture capital to get this revolutionary tool underway. The helmet is actually an airbag, designed with different hairstyles, head gear, and head shapes in mind. It is stored in a collar with a removable outer shell so you can trade out designs based on what you are wearing. The collar includes sensors, which detect the difference in “normal”riding behavior and “accident” behavior. When it senses the rider is in an accident, it will send a signal to the gas inflator in the back of the collar. The gas inflator, which uses helium, will then inflate the helmet around the rider’s head to protect them as a normal “visible” helmet would.
Thought to be impossible not only because it was a new inconceivable idea, but also because the creators and managers of the operation were women, Anna and Terese were determined to prove critics wrong. Regardless of their gender, regardless of their “place” as a woman according to others, regardless of the impossible, these women created a stylish tool of the future. “It is chicken to be a realist.” I couldn’t agree more.