The Hövding is an airbag for your head. Mounted in a bulky collar, which can be disguised as a stylish scarf, the bag explodes on when you crash and surrounds your delicate melon with an inflated hood. I know there are some drivers out there who hate cyclists, so here’s a video of the Hövding in action, with a sneaky car-driver mowing down an innocent biker.
Hövding means “chieftain” in Swedish, and the air-helmet was designed by Swedes Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin as a university thesis project. The collar contains the bag itself, helium to inflate the airbag 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 Chieftain is charged by USB (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: going over the bars and falling forward is a lot like bending down to lock a wheel, for instance. To eliminate false positives, Haupt and Alstin carried out extensive testing with both dummies and – amazingly – stunt men and women.
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 muss your hair while you ride. I’d probably feel less safe in this active scarf than I would in a passive, always-on helmet, but the Hövding seems to be reliable, and I don’t wear a helmet anyway.
There’s one more thing that this protector will do: adapt. When you hook up the hood to a USB port, you can choose to upload your “chiefs”. The unit contains a “black-box” which keeps the last ten-seconds of sensor info in a buffer and saves it on impact. This information is then aggregated to improve the performance of the software.
Bonus: fall off a bridge on the way home and you won’t drown, however drunk you are.
How the Hövding works [Hövding via David Report]
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Fuente: Gadget Lab