This Invention Could Save Your Life

A new invisible bike helmet could revolutize the way people move. But it’s got a steep climb to commercial success in the United States.

National Journal
Matt Berman
Nov. 15, 2013, 3 a.m.

It looks like a trash­bag com­ing out of a finely-pat­terned neck-pil­low. But if you find your­self col­lid­ing with a Volvo on your bike, it could ac­tu­ally save your life.

Meet Hövd­ing, the in­vis­ible bike hel­met. It’s a real, ac­tu­al thing. But it won’t be so easy for it to come to mar­ket in the United States.

Here’s a three-minute doc­u­ment­ary about the Swedish hel­met and its founders:

Bi­cycle in­jur­ies are ob­vi­ously ser­i­ous busi­ness. The 677 cyc­ling deaths in 2011 (the last year for which there’s data) made up 2 per­cent of all mo­tor-vehicle traffic deaths. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al High­way Traffic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion, 48,000 bikers were in­jured in crashes. At the same time, bike rider­ship has been on the rise in the United States.

And yes, hel­mets make a big dif­fer­ence. Hel­met use re­duces the risk of head in­jury by 85 per­cent, says the In­sur­ance In­sti­tute for High­way Safety. But use isn’t at all uni­ver­sal. The most re­cent gov­ern­ment study in 1999 pegged hel­met use at about 50 per­cent. And state laws that man­date hel­met use, ac­cord­ing to this map from IIHS, aren’t really for­cing any­one’s hand:

Part of the is­sue with hel­mets comes down to a simple mat­ter of clunk­i­ness. Sure, mak­ing a bi­cycle hel­met a bit less bulky and ugly won’t ne­ces­sar­ily save hun­dreds of lives. But the in­vis­ible hel­met has the po­ten­tial to help kick up the num­ber of people who use hel­mets, and feel com­fort­able on a bike in gen­er­al.

If the doc­u­ment­ary above didn’t con­vince you that a bat­tery-powered hel­met with sensors could save your head from a crash, check out this crash test video, which has been viewed nearly 2 mil­lion times on You­Tube:

The hel­met didn’t just pass European in­spec­tion. It also suc­ceeded in a test by a Swedish in­sur­ance com­pany that went at high­er max­im­um speeds than the European stand­ards, and it per­formed bet­ter than 12 oth­er more-stand­ard bike hel­mets.

But there are a couple prob­lems. First and fore­most: gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion.

The hel­mets are on sale right now in Sweden, but they can’t leg­ally be sold in the United States as a safety hel­met un­til they pass the tests of the Con­sumer Product Safety Com­mis­sion.

(Hövd­ing)The tests, which are known to be stricter than those in Europe, have a few ob­vi­ously dif­fi­cult ele­ments for the in­vis­ible hel­met. Many of the reg­u­la­tions have to do with the po­s­i­tion­ing of the hel­met in dif­fer­ent situ­ations, which can be a bit con­fus­ing when the hel­met is, you know, an airbag that comes out at the last minute.

The gov­ern­ment isn’t the only thing in the way. The hel­mets re­tail right now for €399, or just over $537. Without get­ting that price down, it’s hard to ima­gine all that many people buy­ing an in­vis­ible hel­met, no mat­ter the fash­ion ap­peal.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×