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A bike helmet airbag gains traction in Europe

There's a stylish alternative in Europe to the sometimes geeky looking bike helmet. Hövding's airbag collar, complete with a gyroscope and accelerometer to detect a crash, is popular in its native Sweden and being sold in Europe and soon in Japan.

Industrial designers Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt spent seven years perfecting their invention after surveys showed people weren't wearing traditional bike helmets in Sweden because they were uncomfortable and messed up their hair.

Here's how it works:

  • when the helmet's internal sensors detect a crash, the miniature airbag inside the scarf deploys in a tenth of a second

It's not cheap:

Hövding's product costs the equivalent of $535. In some cases, insurance companies pay for a new one if the cyclist crashes. A Swedish insurance company backs up company claims that the airbag helmet is safe. Folksam says in a comparison with 12 traditional bike and skate helmets the collar was found to be "far superior" at absorbing impacts.

Plans are to market and sell the product in the U.S. after the approval process. Hövding may eventually develop a collar with cooling technology for hot weather.