By Ben Bowers
on 8.15.12
Photo by Hövding

Helmets save lives at the “expense” of what some misguided cyclists think of as “looking cool”. They’re also bulky, and a pain to schlep once the ride is over. Two female Swedish design students spent seven years researching crash data and over $10 million developing a new form of head protection that avoids both of these aesthetic/design pain points while still saving lives.

The Hövding “Invisible” bike helmet (~$600) is essentially an advanced personal airbag collar equipped with a cold gas helium inflator and variety of sensors that detect abnormal movements while riding. In the event of an accident, a hood-shaped ultra strong nylon airbag inflates in under 0.1 seconds, protecting a rider’s noggin prior to impact. An equally impressive technological breakthrough comes in the form of a black box that records 10 seconds of data before and during any accident, helping various authorities piece together what happened in the hope of preventing crashes in the future. A USB rechargeable battery powers all of the internals when turned on, while six LEDs alert riders when it’s time for more juice. More importantly for fashionistas, the fabric shell that surrounds the collar can be easily swapped out to match your outfit or the season.

Still skeptical? Well, Hövding partnered with the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, VT to perform extensive testing on the device; it was verified as an effective safety device that also happens to make for highly entertaining video fodder — which you can see for yourself after the break. Oh, and if you’re eager to ditch your current skull cap and let the perm fly free, the good news is that they’re already selling the Hövding in Sweden for bikers with change to burn.

Buy Now: ~$600

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