With London’s new ‘Boris Bikes’ hire scheme in full force, the number of urban cyclists on the increase and winter fast approaching this is the perfect time for designers in Sweden to have unveiled the Hövding – a winter jacket with an airbag helmet built into the waterproof collar which on impact inflates around the head to protect it.
In the event of a crash a motion sensor activates a small cannister of helium, which inflates the airbag in one tenth of a second. The airbag has been fully tested (see film below) and is intended to keep the fashion conscious happy, warm and at least as well-protected as those wearing a conventional cycling helmet.
Airbags for all…
The use of airbags now extends beyond those built into the steering wheel of every new car; motorcycle clothing can now incorporate an airbag that protects the collarbone and neck, and car manufacturers have developed a system that inflates on the exterior of a vehicle’s bonnet to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.
The advent of airbags in cars has improved safety for car occupants and the designers of the Hövding hope it can do the same for cyclists.
Much debate surrounds the use of cycle helmets – despite a dramatic increase over the last decade in the number of cyclists who wear them, the number of head injuries sustained has not declined.
The airbag helmet is expected to cost around £300 when it goes on sale next spring. You can order them at Hovding.com and have the choice between a red paisley or black jacket.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “The Hövding is an interesting alternative to the conventional helmet – non-intrusive to wear, easy to store and quite possibly more effective than the polystyrene-based alternative.”
Airbags for people
A Japanese company recently developed an airbag to prevent people from injuring themselves when they fall.
The airbag weighs 1.1kg and is built into an inconspicuous-looking waistcoat. If sensors within the device decide that the wearer has taken a fall, bags that protect the head, spine and hips are deployed in a tenth of a second.
The human airbag is designed for elderly people – almost 22 per cent of Japan’s population is over 65.