(Photo Credit: Hövding)

(Photo Credit: Hövding)

This month, Hövding released an updated version of their “invisible” bike helmet that has taken Europe by storm. The Swedish startup produces an unobtrusive collar for cyclists that functions as a helmet/airbag. If a collision occurs, the airbag is instantly deployed to envelop a bicyclist’s entire head. The new version is designed to offer better comfort and versatility while maintaining the same safety benefits, at a slightly lower price of €299.

Hövding originated from a master’s thesis by two students, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, who conducted extensive research reenacting thousands of cycling accidents. In contrast to typical bike helmets, which can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and only partially protect the head and neck, Hövding is designed to be not only stylish and convenient, but also to offer superior safety. According to tests by the Swedish insurance company Folksam, Hövding reduces the impact force of a crash by 68 percent relative to traditional bike helmets – enough to prevent concussions. It also protects more of a cyclists head and neck relative to traditional helmets. The airbag deploys through a trigger mechanism that is controlled through sensors to pick up any abnormal movements by a cyclist.

Hövding has enjoyed great success thus far – it won numerous design awards and sold out its first version across European markets and online after its initial retail release in November 2013. Recently, the company secured a €3 million investment from Indigo Capital Partners to support its growth. Unfortunately, however, expansion to the US market is “further away” according to Örjan Johansson, chairman of the Hövding board.

As a more effective, more convenient helmet, Hövding holds promise as one of the world’s most exciting bicycle safety innovations. It breaks down a critical barrier to bicycling – concerns over safety – and helps appeal to the “interested but concerned” category of potential cyclists. While a Hövding alone will not protect against all crashes or make bicycling safe on otherwise dangerous streets, it serves as a key piece to the Vision Zero puzzle when coupled with advanced designs like cycle tracks. We’re excited to see what Hövding has in store as production increases and prices (hopefully) come down once it enters the US market.