Airbag helmet company deflates

Nordic model looks serene and unblinking as an exploding helmet surrounds her head.

It seemed an impossible product, a head airbag that would sense the perfect time to inflate in microseconds.

From sensor pre-impact logic, the reliability of electronics, coverage, the tradeoff of wearing a bulky collar instead of a helmet. How often will it inflate in non-collision situations?

The Hövding contains accelerometers that detect unusual movements which then deploys the airbag if the movement patterns match the profile of a crash.

I never thought it would go past the concept stage. Then it did, and my skepticism became 5% less. Awards followed, cool marketing with very attractive people wearing the magic protective collar. The triumph of youthful designer eyes and faith in technology to somewhat magically protect other people’s heads.

[ The large distance to slow down a head is optimum, that was the one fantastic point. ]

My skepticism has been recalibrated. I’m a little sad it wasn’t real.

You’re right to be skeptical, but you may want to recallibrate again.

The reason for the recall was NOT the parts you may be skeptical about - the airbag, accidental deployment or explosion charges below your face. It ws actually something much simpler - the LED and the bleeps that were supposed to indicate that the helmet was charged and functioning, actually showed misinformation. So people were wearing a ded collar while thinking they were protected. I think thou they actually fixed it with software update, but handled the PR really badly. And now they claim ”fatal damage has been done”. I think the company never became profitable and this was investors’ way out.

The recall only applied to the THIRD version Hövding, the latest model. The founders made an exit long before.

I actually have one, got it as a present from my wife. She endee up using it more than me. I found that it was quite uncomfortable wearing a collar with a big lump in the back (hard plastic) - it prevented me from tilting my head and looking around freely. Something tradiotional design could fix without any fancy technology leaps.

I found myself worrying about accidental deployment, but it never occured. There were times I turned it off while wearing it, for example doing 1 km/h on a bumpy road - just in case. I also hesitaded wearing it to places like a bar, because didn,t want it to get stolen or lug it around all evening.

When the recall order came I was happy - since it was mostly sitting on the shelf. The idea of getting 300 eur back was tempting. And then they filed bancrupcy and dodged recall. I actually have no idea if its working or not lol. Maybe I’ll try to deploy it intentionally!

Anyway, arent there chinese companies that now market airbag-everything? Pants for motorcycling, jackets for elders falling over etc…

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It’s okay, I am in a perpetual state of recalibration. :neutral_face:

The Swedish Consumer Agency completely stops the sale of Hövding 3. The authority has now decided on a permanent sales halt, and a recall of the product from the Swedish market and from the customer.

The recall was triggered by an investigation by a tv show called Uppdrag granskning the show about the helmet can be found here, Uppdrag granskning – Ofriska Hövdingar | SVT Play

I do not speak Swedish, so I watched the show with my phone sitting on the laptop with Google translate conversation open.

The main aspect was the units powering down without notice or not providing notice of no power. Battery contact corrosion resulted in no power supplied and nothing working. First-person (medical expert) account of over the handlebars accidents reported without deploying. And the company talking about the state of updated algorithms.

Not a 100% full take, but enough to reinforce some of my initial concerns.

It was never sold in the US. Is this correct?

They sold 300,000 of them according to the translation. Wow.

Here is a video of one explosively inflating indoors when a guy puts his jacket on. Video: Airbag cycling helmet deploys - as rider puts coat on |

Increased distance is the key to slowing down the brain mass, it is a good plan. With these technical solutions, I feel like we are still on the learning curve side, and with critical applications like helmets, it is overconfident to be making a mass-produced product.

Yes, seeing lots of that.

Motorcyclists and increased sense of invulnerability, what could go wrong?

Products for overprotective parents, plus school bullies.

Dall-E has a go.


Thanks for bringing this up now. Because of it I had to investigate if I can still get a refund. Turns out there may be a good chance! Ka-ching.

When the consumer agency made the recall, the company made an appeal. Appeal was granted, and company filed bankrupcy.

But it turns out the investigation was complete 2 days ago! (Thats why I thank you for bringing it up now). It turns out there were far more issues than the power-down, and more to do with dubious collision claims.

Update from Swedish Consumer Agency:

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Good luck, hope you get some money back!

Nice work on finding the report, I searched for the Swedish Consumer Agency information but did not find it. From your link, translated into English.

Here are the security flaws

  • When Hövding 3 was type-checked, it was only investigated that the protection triggers when the cyclist is traveling at 20 kilometers per hour or when a cyclist is hit by a car traveling at 20 kilometers per hour. Function at higher speeds was never investigated. Tests carried out by the manufacturer in the fall of 2023 show that Hövding 3 has serious safety problems because the equipment did not trigger in many of the test cases at higher speeds, not least when hit from behind.

  • Hövding 3 provides no protection in the event of what the manufacturer calls direct hits, and in the user manual it says vehicles with a flat front. If you as a user are hit by, for example, a bus or truck, you cannot count on the protection to trigger. A number of users have been injured in these types of accidents.

  • Hövding 3 has been programmed not to trigger during slow head movements, despite accidents occurring that resulted in head injuries.

  • Hövding 3 has sometimes shut down on its own without warning the user about this. When the equipment is turned off, it will not be activated in the event of an accident.

  • When Hövding 3 has time to activate and inflate, the user often receives sufficient protection. But the front part of the inflated airbag and parts of the sides were tested during the type control with a significantly lower impact energy than what is used when a traditional bicycle helmet is to be approved.

It’s always this.

My favorite is first time designers having a revelation, “thin helmets”! Thin as a ball cap and more protection than a conventional “block” helmet!

Brooklyn address, media tours, awards, millions raised on Indiegogo, millions more in Facebook advertising sales. Got thicker and thicker and never shipped.

All based on either self delusion or outright deception. Fresh faces on David Hall Jordan Klein, remarkable.

What’s the laws of physics when you have social media, moxie and youthful stupidity
With a dash of design “magic” and a nice logo?

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I am fully aware this sounds like older gentlemen talking about “kids these days”. Let’s break it down. Dunning and Kruger laid it out nicely regarding the entry into the experience curve and self perception.

The thin, or minimal helmet has been a recurring product theme in my design sphere since my awareness began. The very first helmet that appeared in my wtf designdar, (desdar?) was a thin set of leather pads that bike racers wore in the 70s called the “hairnet helmet”. Sleek, stylish, and completely useless.

Yet it in 2023 at Eurobike, another young startup figured it out all over again.

D&K hint: No serious protective equipment company will ever make a “safer” claim. “Four times safer”. That means that lawyers can ask for four times the amount in a lawsuit when someone inevitability gets injured. All safety standards have been developed as a minimum consumer protection baseline and industry lawsuit protection. Meet the standard, you’ve done your job. Exceeding the standard is great, but it puts you into a expectations vs legal gray zone.

Inflabi will never past testing unless it is three to four times thicker. Even then, a percentage of any production will leak. Even worse, the impact energy is returned to the head “efficiently”, bounce, like springs in car bumpers instead of crumple zones. Good for keeping the products shape, horrible for gray matter.

I’ve seen padded knit cap companies make safety claims at trade shows. Marginally better than nothing.

Cool trendy young companies launch slim sleek objects that clearly look like snow helmets, all of the elements, plastic shell, foam padding, everything, yet impossibly thin. Examine the small print on label when they reach retail “this is hard hat, not a helmet”. Legalese: Disclaimer, No sport level protection.

Park and Diamond’s David Hall and Jordan Klein packaged their D&K idea into a slick Brooklyn hip package and boldly claimed a solution that was as impossible as the 1970s hairnet helmets. Yet the same desire to believe by the consumers fueled the millions in vapor-sales.

The superficial trappings of a product are easy to assemble now, renders, prototypes, and use attractive people ( looking at you Hövding ) to appeal to optimistic and less skeptical customers.

The answer is to combine fresh eyes with experienced minds, and accept the laws of physics and the limits of current technology. Rationally push the envelope, or grift, up to the individual.

Yay got my money back! The advantage of purchasing through Big Box retail chain. The staff had already been prepped and didn’t ask any questions once the saw the receipt. Those who purchased directly from the source will not have the same luck.

Some people say Hövding was before it’s time, but I wonder if they actually were outpaced by culture. When Hövding was pitched on Swedish “Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank” show, the culture was that it was not cool to wear a helmet. I agreed. When doing something casual, helmets weren’t cool. When I started snowboarding not one single snowboarder wore a helmet, only the nerdiest skiers did. Now, you will feel the stares and considered a total idiot if your aren’t wearing one on the slopes. I feel like casual cycling is almost at the same point. The appeal of not wearing a helmet is just not the same anymore. Is that something you’ve encountered in any trend reports @nxakt ?