Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#MEMS: "Air-Bag Substitutes for Dorky Bike Helmet"

Tired of that dorky bike helmet? Now thanks to micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chips from ST Microelectronics an air-bag for-the-head can replace the ubiquitous helmet, resulting in a stylish look that also offers better protection, according to their inventor Hövding. Upon impact, the air-bag inflates around the head and neck to provide protection against impacts in the ground or nearby objects: R. Colin Johnson

Here is what ST Microelectronics says about invisible bike helmets: Motion sensors and microcontrollers from STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, form the brain and senses of the airbag bicycle helmet invented by Hövding, a Swedish design house. The combination of innovative design and state-of-the-art electronics has produced market-unique safety equipment for cyclists in a novel form factor.

International studies show that bicycle helmets reduce injuries by at least 60%. Four in 10 people who die in cycling accidents would have survived had they been wearing a helmet. Despite these alarming statistics, the vast majority of cyclists do not wear helmets for different reasons: they find them bulky, impractical to carry around, or unflattering to wear[1].

The Hövding gear addresses both the safety and practical aspects of bicycle helmets. Unlike traditional skull shells, the ‘invisible‘helmet is a collar worn around the neck with an airbag folded inside. In an accident, ST’s motion sensors pick up the abnormal movements of a cyclist and send a signal to the airbag, which inflates in a tenth of a second to form a hood that surrounds and protects nearly all of the cyclist’s head and neck, while leaving the field of vision open.

The integrated sensors in the collar detect both linear and angular motion in all three dimensions and recognize complex movements of the user with outstanding precision and speed. To determine an accident condition, the sensor system uses sophisticated algorithms defined from a database of specific movement patterns recorded during hundreds of simulated-accident and normal cycling situations.

The electronics in the Hövding helmet are managed by an STM32 microcontroller - a powerful, flexible and reliable control chip that makes sure everything functions reliably and on a minimal energy budget. Among the industry’s largest ARM Cortex M-based microcontroller families, ST’s STM32 comprises more than 300 devices with many different memory configurations, an extensive set of peripherals, outstanding power consumption, and the industry’s best development ecosystem.

The Hövding helmets conform to EU safety regulations (CE-marked) and can be bought in Europe through

For further information on the Hövding helmets please see videos on
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