A superior protection
Two students of Industrial Design spent seven years to take their airbag helmet from a brave idea in a Master’s Thesis to a physical product. After the tests during the EU safety certification process proved that it really kicked the ass of traditional helmets, it’s an outstanding success — now ready for the next generation.
The idea of a new bicycle helmet was born in Sweden in 2005 when a new law made the use of bicycle helmets mandatory for children up to the age of 15 years old. This triggered a debate on whether bicycle helmets should also be made mandatory for adults. Two students of Industrial Design, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, decided to find out if it was possible to develop a bicycle helmet that people would actually be happy to wear — whether they had to or not. Their Master’s Thesis resulted in the concept of an airbag helmet.
Right from the beginning, the airbag helmet gained a lot of attention for its innovative design. In 2006 Hövding won the Venture Cup competition, where young entrepreneurs get to develop their idea into a sustainable business plan. The same year, Hövding Sweden was founded as a company. However, it took seven years to transform it from a concept into an approved and certified product.
— As our founders went through the EU safety certification process, they realized they had something better as the tests showed that Hövding really kicked the ass of traditional helmets when it came to safety, says Fredrik Carling, who spent 16 years at Levi’s followed by iconic Magazine du Nord in Denmark before joining Hövding as CEO 7 years ago.
— Developing a helmet that everyone would be happy to wear had an unexpected but welcome side effect: Hövding’s unique airbag system turned out to offer cyclists superior protection against head injuries.
Today more than 150 000 Hövdings have been sold.
How does it work?
— Hövding is the world’s first airbag for urban cyclists and it is a discreet collar that the bicyclist wears around the neck. In a collision, the collar inflates like a full integral helmet and protects the head. Through the advanced sensors and unique algorithm Hövding detects the cyclist’s movement patterns and reacts and inflates in 0,1 second in case of an accident. The airbag inflates to cover the head and fixates the neck to provide the best protection for cyclists on the market.
How safe is it?
— Hövding is CE marked after undergoing an extensive process for approval by SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. CE marking is required for a cycle helmet to be able to be sold in Europe and certifies that the helmet complies with the requirements laid down in the EU Directive for personal protective equipment, says Carling, continuing,
— Hövding’s unique airbag system offers cyclists superior protection against head injuries. According to tests conducted through the recognized Stanford University, Hövding reduces the risk of concussions and gives up to eight times better protection than a traditional bike helmet. Furthermore, Hövding protects both head and neck and a major bicycle helmet test carried out by [insurance company] Folksam showed that Hövding provides 3 times better chock absorption than any traditional bicycle helmet.
The target group is defined as ”urban cyclists” over 15 years old. What is really exciting, according to Carling, is that the typical user of Hövding does not exist.
— It is the 18-year-old tech and innovation interested young woman and the 76-year-old man who just want the best protection there is on the market as he’s just bought an e-bike. Typically our customers are quite conscious individuals who have bought into the lifestyle of using their cycle in their everyday life. Be it for the environment, their personal health or simply because it is the nicest way to travel in a city.
How’s the business?
— Strong. Last year, we grew 63% and were just under 100 MSEK in net sales. We expect similar growth this year (2019). Main markets are Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the UK. Over 150 000 sold to date and over 4 000 cyclists protected in accidents. Those are strong KPI’s in my opinion.
A few weeks ago, the brand received great attention when exhibiting at one of the leading trade fairs in London.
— The response from the visitors was great, especially when they see how the airbag works in real life. In Sweden and Denmark, it is a quite common sight in the bigger cities. In England not yet. So, there is a lot of curiosity around the product and we anticipate London to become the next big Hövding city this year and 2020.
This fall sees the next generation of Hövding. Could you give us a teaser on what to expect?
— Expect the world’s best cycle helmet getting even safer. And more enjoyable and fun to use. As mentioned, more than 4 000 accidents are today recorded where the cyclist has been protected by Hövding. Our mission is to protect, engage and motivate millions of minds around the world. For the world. So, our plans are grand. For cyclists and others. In Europe and globally. We have only just begun.Industrial DesignHövding