Yes, she is wearing a 'helmet' - albeit an invisible one.
When the concept of the Hovding - a collar that you wear around your neck instead of a shell atop your skull - first surfaced, it was a very popular story for lots of different web sites.
And why wouldn't it be? With the amount of debate and digital ink devoted to the 'helmet wars' it's no wonder that we all flocked to read about a fancy, inflating, 'invisible' helmet that would keep our hairstyles intact.Of course, some were skeptical - would the thing actually work? - and others choked on the estimated price of the Hovding of more than $500 US dollars.
Yet the brainchild of two fledgling Swedish designers not only began winning design awards. It also recently pulled in some of the the highest safety ratings when tested by a Swedish insurance company.
Helmet testing is usually done under the auspices of CE, which is the European Community's mark of meeting certain safety standards. And Hovding meets those standards for safety, which means it provides as much protection as any other standard CE helmet during a bike crash.
He's also wearing an 'invisible' bike helmet.
However, the Swedish insurance company Folksam decided to do its own test, and at slightly higher maximum speeds than CE standards – 25 kilometers per hour rather than 20 kilometers per hour. (It's important to note for all dedicated helmet wearers that that's just 15 and 12 miles per hour.)
Basically in these tests a helmet is put on a crash test dummy's head and dropped from a height. The dummy's head has sensors to measure the force of the impact. At 25 kph, all of the other 12 helmets tested by Folksam were over 200Gs of force, which would result in definite concussion for the humans with these helmets on.
The Hovding collar, which inflates with helium gas to protect the wearer's head at top and on the sides when motion sensors detect a new disturbance, measured just 65Gs of force.
"This is more than three times better than the average helmet," said Hövding creator Anna Haupt. "Compared to those normal helmets, the Hovding impact was so soft – like a mattress – the head would not even feel it."
Folksam, which tested popular brands including Bell and Giro, said the other 12 helmets all had room for improvements.
Explanatory test results (Swedish only) can be downloaded here.