Commuting Accessories

Hövding, a fabric collar that turns into an airbag helmet at the first sign of trauma

Hövding is an innovative safety device from two Swedish industrial designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin. It’s essentially an airbag for cyclists that if successful could revolutionise the way we wear helmets forever.

At rest, the Hövding looks like a rather bulky scarf. In action it inflates to a bubble-like hood

What is it?

Essentially Hövding is a material collar worn around the neck while cycling. Contained within the collar is an air bag that inflates at the first sign of impact. In the event of an accident, the air bag is automatically deployed, inflating into a hood-like device around your head, absorbing the impact.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

You may wonder why someone may want to go up against the traditional helmet. But, when Sweden introduced a law on mandatory helmet use for children up to the age of 15, it made two industrial design students, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin think.

Hövding Fouders: Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt

Haupt and Alstin wondered whether it was possible to create a helmet that the public would want to wear – whether they had to or not.

Basing their master’s thesis around this idea, the concept of the airbag helmet was born. The final device, the Hövding that is available today online at £399 – from concept to final creation, took just over 7 years to create.

How does it work?

Thousands of cycling accidents were re-enacted using stunt riders and crash-test dummies to collect the specific movement patterns of cyclists in accidents. Alongside the crash data, test cyclists wearing a Hövding were used to collect and record information about everyday cycling.

By combining the two sets of data, the Hövding team were able to create an algorithm than can distinguish normal cycling from accidents, triggering the airbag exactly when it’s needed.

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Hövding works via a battery that’s easily charged using a USB cable and lasts for around 18 hours of cycling at a time. There’s an on/off switch and the front zip needs to be completely closed to activate it.

If you have an accident, and the Hövding is deployed, a black box inside the collar records 10 seconds of data on your movement patterns from the incident. The team at Hövding request you send it back so they can analyse the data.

How do I look?

From an aesthetic point of view, the helmet looks like a rather bulky militant scarf, with pockets.

There’s a colour and design for everyone

The designers have made a conscious effort to make it appeal to the fashion conscious by creating a number of extra shells – essentially the removable material casing that houses the air bag and gubbins – in various colours and designs to match your outfit or bike.

For more information or to buy the Hövding, visit their website:

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