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Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II, 1985 silkscreen · edition of 40 Sims Reed Gallery words: Kelly Pollard illustration: Bruce Emmett
Anatomy of Hövding What began as an industrial design master’s thesis seven years ago has evolved into a revolutionary invisible bicycle helmet. Designers Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt describe Hövding – “chieftain” in Swedish – as an accessory that could save your life.
To switch the Hövding on and off it must be placed around your neck and the front zip must be pulled up under your chin. The zip tag buttons into the on/
off snap fastener on the right side of the collar. LED lights and a sound indicate that it is on.
Collar The designers knew they “wanted the helmet to be worn around the neck”. All components of the Hövding are located inside the collar. The weight of the collar is distributed across the shoulders and the back. When the airbag is triggered, the upper seam of the collar splits open as the hood inflates. It is made of waterproof fabric to protect the airbag system.
Battery life indicator/
At the front of the collar is a plastic section that contains three important elements: an LED logo that indicates when the Hövding is on; six LEDs that show the battery level; and a USB port for charging the battery.
Shell The shell, which surrounds the collar, is a removable accessory. It has a zipper attachment and comes in a variety of designs, colours and fabrics. This allows users to customise their look according to season or outfit, making the Hövding a much more fashionable alternative to standard helmets.
“We didn’t like today’s bicycle helmets,” Haupt says. “We wanted something invisible.” An airbag that pops up like a hood was the solution. In the event of an accident, an airbag made of ultra-strong nylon fabric inflates around the head. It is designed to provide effective shock absorption and can withstand several impacts to the head. Afterwards, the airbag slowly deflates.
Located in a holder that rests on the cyclist’s back, the gas inflator uses helium to inflate the airbag in 0.1 seconds. It is one of the smallest gas inflators on the market.
Sensors In the event of an accident, accelerometer and gyro sensors detect abnormal cyclist movements to deploy the airbag. These sensors send a signal to the gas inflator to inflate the airbag. “The company currently employs 16 people, including mathematicians and electric engineers, to help develop the components and software,” Haupt says.
Black box The black box located inside the Hövding records 10 seconds of the cyclist’s movement patterns, before and during an accident. Alstin and Haupt are using this information for “future developments” of the helmet.