The Invisible Helmet

Bike is a part of the daily life for many people in the Netherlands and of course for students. It is cheap, easy to park, healthy for many reasons, but is it safe? How many of the readers of this post have the habit of wearing a helmet when cycling? I guess that the group is really small and I am not a member of it too. Assuming that the knowledge about the risks of not wearing a helmet are popularly known, what makes us hesitate? As a member of the group, I can list some of the basic reasons: 1) The space that is needed to store it 2) Its bad impact on every kind of headdress 3) The awkward feeling when you wear it.

If your motivation of not wearing a helmet is listed above, then the invisible helmet may be your solution.
The product is called Hövding (Head or Chief in Swedish) and the idea started out in 2005 when Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, 2 friends from the University of Lund, were preparing their master thesis. The enactment of a law in Sweden on mandatory helmet use for people under 15 years old was their motivation for this product. They wanted to create a helmet that people willing to use for many reasons apart from the mandatory nature of this law.

How does this helmet actually work? It is based on the same concept of operation of a car airbag. It has the shape of a scarf, with the difference that it has a small built in canister filled with compressed air. A smart sensor detects the acceleration which is caused when a collision happens, and triggers the decompression of the air into an airbag that covers the biggest part of the head. The whole process is a matter of milliseconds and guarantees the security of the cycler.

There are two main reasons that this project took about seven years to reach the production level. Firstly, to ensure the proper functionality of the product, the team had to simulate all known accidents. Secondly, they had to address to an investor for the funding of their project. They attracted venture capital funds that amount to about 10 million dollars.

The product is available to order through their site but they also cooperate with retailers in 9 different countries. The team tries to combine the characteristics of a sophisticated high tech product and those of a fashion product. The only drawback may be the price which is €299, reasonable enough considering the features of this product.


• Hovding Airbag for Cyclists. (2014, 10 9). Retrieved from

• The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten. (2014, 10 9). Retrieved from


3 responses to “The Invisible Helmet”

  1. 354079mf says :

    This is a good idea. I have been in the Netherlands for around 12 years and rarely see anyone wearing a bike helmet (including myself), and the ones I ever did see were mostly children. This also reduces the hassle of having to carry a helmet around after cycling since most of the time people are doing errands, and considering it is rather cold and rains quite often here the design will be welcomed by the public. Thank you for sharing!

  2. robinseetz says :

    Thanks for this interesting article.

    I also think it is a very interesting innovation. Especially when you take in account that 78.000 people get into a bicycle accident, of which almost 200 die each year in the Netherlands.

    I would argue that the Dutch traffic is used to bicycles and therefore a helmet is not as necessary in The Netherlands as it would be in other countries. However, I am not completely sure what the relative numbers would be if you compare accidents with the amount of people cycling. The fact that a lot people are bicycling should encourages people to wear a helmet.

    Let say I would want to wear a helmet because, but I am not doing it because of the reasons mentioned above. There are also reasons why I would not wear this scarf. First, the price of this innovation is definitely too high to convince people like me to start wearing a helmet. Second, who wants to wear a scarf during summer?

    So, personally I would not wear the this invisible helmet for sure. It could be nice for cyclist and children. However, they do not have the same basis reasons as we have for not wearing a helmet. Therefore I would say that the innovation will not change our habits in bicycling.


  3. 419833sl says :

    What makes an impression to me is that there have been more and more products lately regarding the safety of people who cycle. Like you said, it seems bicycle is becoming more popular and used in many cities because it is eco-friendly and cheap, however it is also pretty unsafe. Perhaps not in the Netherlands, where there is proper infrastructure, but definitely in some other, more crowded cities.

    I actually stumbled upon such a product a while ago. It was called SEIL Bag and was designed by Lee Myung Su. It was based on the notion that many accidents happen due to the biker’s inability to declare the direction he is willing to follow or that he is slowing down. So the bag was designed to show through light indications where the biker is willing to go, whether he will turn right or left and if he would slow down, all done through wireless remote control. The reason I am using past tense though is that the product tried to receive funding through the Kickstarter platform but failed, so it was never initiated.

    Recently I saw something about another similar product which is called Backtracker. This device is supposed to be placed under the biker’s seat, but instead of informing others about his movements, it gives information to the cyclist about movement behind him. That is speed and distance of the following vehicle. This product is also searching for funding via online platform Dragon Innovation. Hopefully this time proper funding will be achieved and the product will be put on the market.

    I personally neglect safety measures as well, but nevertheless safety is important. Plus it gives bikers the opportunity to try out some cool gadgets. It would be encouraging to see more products like these go on the market and with a cheap price, as they promote safety and bike usage in general, something absolutely positive in my opinion.


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