The disruptive device makes people wonder “how girls could invent anything this technical,” says co-founder Anna Haupt.
Two innovative Swedish women are getting some attention, thanks to a short film released online.
Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have created an “invisible” bicycle helmet, a device worn around the neck that deploys an airbag in the event of an accident. The duo, who run a company called Hövding in Malmo, wanted a less bulky alternative to the modern helmet. They came up with a prototype in 2005 for a university thesis but recently gained notoriety after General Electric profiled them in its Focus Forward 3-minute documentary series.
In the film, the two say they have to deal with a lot of naysayers. “People wonder how girls could invent anything this technical,” Haupt says.
On their website, Haupt and Alstin say they wanted to create a safe and stylish option that riders would be “happy to wear.” The idea was prompted by the introduction of a new Swedish law mandating helmet use. After seven years researching bicycle accidents and movement patterns, the two designed their prototype: a modified battery-powered airbag, hidden inside a zippered water-proof collar, that deploys around the head on impact or during a fall.
The recipients of 11 awards and grants, the women say they haven’t had a problem raising venture capital and now have about $10 million in funding. Their business has grown from two to 17 employees.
The helmet does have one significant drawback: one complete system costs a hefty $600 and, like a traditional airbag, Hövding can only be deployed once.
Check out the video here: