Two Swedish students, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have developed an airbag helmet, called the Hövding, as part of their thesis project. It comes as a collar (as modelled above) and when it detects that an impact is imminent, it automatically inflates and provides protection for the cyclist's head by surrounding it with an air-filled cushion.
For the fashion and hairdo conscious, this would solve the problem with helmets being inherently unfashionable and the age-old issue of helmet hair. Like us, you're probably wondering just how reliable could this be; there are just so many ways that you can crash (and I've probably tried most of them), how reliable would its firing mechanism me? Check out the video below and see some of the tests that they did with it:
We were pretty impressed here, it seems to handle a good variety of crashes (although I'm not sure how many cyclists get rear-ended by cars, as opposed to side-on collisions). We did have one slight concern with the whole idea, though:
You're cycling along, the wind in your hair, looking all stylish in your jacket and craftily disguised airbag collar when, out of the corner of your eye, you spot a rather attractive member of the opposite sex (in the case of the model pictured above, a very dapper looking young man). You snap your head to the side to get a better look and then......BLAM.......
What do you think? Could this be the next step in helmet evolution?