Invisible Bike Helmet Protects Head, and Fashion Sense

Invisible Bike Helmet Protects Head, and Fashion Sense (video)

A University of Edinburgh PhD student from the United Kingdom has created a motorcycle helmet that uses an endothermic chemical reaction to self-cool upon impact. The company, Termahelm, will soon offer the ability to either buy a helmet directly from them or retrofit your current helmet with the cooling technology.

The website is misleading on the benefit of this technology in that it points to a multitude of studies investigating systemic hypothermia in the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) where the entire patient is cooled for an extended period of time. That’s not what the helmet is doing and even if it were, whether or not this actually helps seems to still be an open question (see review). Also, the premise of the idea rests upon two assumptions: one, that prophylactic local hypothermia (icin’ the noggin’) leads to better severe head trauma outcomes. And two, that applying this therapy immediately, even before an ambulance arrives, has a clinical benefit.

That being said, it seems like a neat idea and leaves us with the obvious question: Can you activate it while riding on a hot summer day?

Motorcycle helmets have been the major contributing factor to the safety and protection of Motorcycle riders for many years. When motorcycles were invented back in 1868, they were not powered by a petrol engine, but a steam engine. As you can imagine, they were very slow, and only marginally quicker than a pedal operated cycle, so there was no need people thought, to wear protective helmets.

Though it’s nearing the end of summer, bicyclists will still be hitting the roads for the next couple of months. Hopefully most of them will be wearing helmets, though you will invariably see a few who are not because of the undesirable fashion statement and/or inconvenience of post-ride “helmet hair” (though having seen some of the injuries associated with not wearing helmets, this author believes that people who subscribe to the latter reason have not encountered true inconvenience.) These people may be in luck, however, thanks to the work of Hövding, a design/engineering/generally awesome company based in Sweden.

The invisible bike helmet is essentially a (visible) collar that bicyclists wear around their necks, the idea being that it will appeal to both users’ fashion sense and ergonomic need for insulation. Upon sensing an impact, the collar uses a small helium gas inflator to blow up a hood-shaped nylon airbag around the user’s head in about 100 milliseconds – cushioning the cranium before impact. The collar also contains a black box that records 10 seconds of movement data (from embedded accelerometers and gyros) during, and immediately before, a cycling accident. For more information, check out the video below.

This appears to be an exciting development for bicyclists who don’t have many options when it comes to fashionable head protection. We previously covered a nascent solution for motorcyclists that embedded a fast cooling mechanism in the helmet and are glad to see that an increasing number of companies are working on cool, potentially life-saving technologies like these.

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