In Amsterdam, the bike is king. The Dutch capital city claims that 55% of commuters whose job is less than 7.5 kilometers away choose to cycle to work. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Dutch cyclists leave the house without a helmet. These statistics aren’t any better around other parts of northern Europe, where bicycles are a popular method of transportation. In response, two Swedish women named Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt spent seven years creating the Hövding, a helmet that essentially mimics the functionality of a car air bag. If you’ve already seen their powerful video, it seems almost too simple to be believed, but the final reveal of the helmet’s functionality is astonishing.
So the Hövding isn’t exactly invisible, but what’s great about Altin and Haupt’s design is that it addresses human vanity. “Few casual cyclists in Europe wear helmets and I was jealous of how chic they looked with their hair flying free,” wrote Dana Liebelson in her report on the helmet. “So I, too, ditched my headgear. The first and only time I got hit by a car on my bike, I wasn’t wearing a helmet.”
The helmet isn’t without issues. It’s currently sold for $600, which is completely beyond the average person’s budget. There’s also the question of trust — would you feel safe and comfortable riding the streets with an invisible helmet? But with so much interest and $10 million in start-up capital, these issues could become moot. Cycling hasn’t changed much over the past 100 years, but this could be revolutionary.
Chappell Ellison is a designer, writer and design writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she serves as a contributor for The Etsy Blog and design columnist for GOOD.