Hovding, the Invisible Bicycle Helmet – a Moonshot Project

Swedish industrial design students developed an airbag that replaces bicycle helmets.

Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt were industrial design graduate students who found inspiration in bicycle helmets. They were inspired not by the good qualities of helmets, but the bad. They felt that helmets were too bulky, suppressed a cyclist’s vision, and looked ugly. Their solution was to design a product with all of the safety requirements without the traditional helmet qualities.

The Hovding is an airbag for cyclists that is worn as a scarf. Sensors within the collar are triggered during a crash incident and deploy the airbag. Extensive crash testing was done to build the algorithm that distinguishes between normal cycling activity and an accident.


The airbag itself is designed in a hood shape, made of nylon fabric that resists rips when scraping across the ground. After inflation the bag remains intact for several seconds to protect against multiple impacts from one accident. Helium gas is contained in an inflator that sits at the back of the collar.

Crash testing and development for the Hovding have been in process since 2005 and are constantly evolving. Research was done with help from airbag manufacturer Alva Sweden. Hovding has outfitted every collar with a black box device that records ten seconds of data of the cyclist’s movement. They ask that any users who have an accident to add that data to the decade’s worth of information already collected.


The Hovding unit zips around a users neck, with a zipper that must be fully in the up position and an of / off switch to activate the device. Five LEDs on the collar and a sound signal notify the user that the device is switched on. Several designs are available to enhance the black outside collar, and shells can also be purchased to give the collars a different look.

Currently the product is sold in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Switzerland Turkey and in the inventors’ native Sweden. Sales to North America are not active at this time. The GE Focus Forward video is very well done, and the company’s website is full of good information but short on technical details. The Hovding is an exciting step forward in cycling safety.