After four years of research and development, Swedish company Hövding has designed its most innovative wearable airbag for cyclists yet – complete with built-in Bluetooth capability, the Hövding 3 syncs with smartphones so it can send messages to next-of-kin in the event of an accident. Jenny Southan reports
The Hövding 3 is the third generation of Hövding’s airbag for urban cyclists, which is worn around the neck like a collar, and is therefore more appealing to people who don’t like wearing helmets. Upon impact, it inflates, just like a car airbag, instantly cocooning the head before it is injured.
Over the years, Hövding has developed unique expertise in airbag technology and algorithm development, allowing it to employ user feedback from the two previous versions of the wearable airbag to improve its design.
Hövding says the new version is easier to use, more comfortable and can be adjusted in size, meaning it fits perfectly around the neck. It also has new patented airbag technology and battery life that has been extended to about 15 active hours of cycling.
One of the coolest new features is its built-in Bluetooth functionality that allows it to be synced to a smartphone. This allows for an ICE (In Case of Emergency) function that triggers a text message to be sent to next-of-kin in the event of an accident involving airbag inflation, including the co-ordinates of the accident site.Hövding’s CEO, Fredrik Carling, says: “We have carried out four years of research to make the world’s safest head protection for cyclists even better. And in the eight years in which people have been cycling with a Hövding, we have gathered feedback from customers and used it in our design and development work.
“Our surveys of cyclists in seven major European cities show that 70 per cent would cycle more if they felt safer. We have focused on this and want to contribute to greater safety.”
The Hövding 3 comes with an app that is compatible with iOS and Android mobile operating systems. It displays how far you have cycled and the remaining battery time. It also collects cycle data to show Hövding where accidents occur most frequently, where there are large numbers of cyclists and how cycling infrastructure should be developed.For the development of Hövding 3, the company staged more than 3,000 accidents with stuntmen and collected data on over 2,000 hours of standard cycling. When Hövding has been activated, it registers movements 200 times a second. In an accident, the airbag is inflated in 0.1 seconds to enclose the head and hold the cyclist’s neck in place.
Today, Hövding airbags are used by around 185,000 cyclists and over 4,000 cyclists have reported having been protected in accidents by them.
Carling says: “Cycling may be the answer to many of the challenges relating to the environment, congestion in cities and health, and we want to take cyclist protection to the next level. We know that safety means more than just reactive protection. We need to be proactive to improve accident statistics.
Our vision is to reach out and protect many more cyclists than we do today. Hövding 3 has been developed for high volume production to meet growing demand and permit the international expansion that we are about to embark upon.”