Despite its unusual appearance, the Hövding bicycle collar has become somewhat mainstream and no longer raises eyebrows when spotted on the roads of Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin.
The Hövding helmet was innovated as a way to circumvent the apparent “nerdiness” of traditional helmets, while preserving the cyclist’s safety, vanity, and hairdo. As a bonus, the solution of an airbag worn as a collar — which inflates in 0.1 seconds should an algorithm detect an accident — has proven to be far safer than helmets it was designed to replace.
A study by Stanford University found that the Hövding airbag helmet provided eight times better protection than a conventional bicycle helmet. Similarly, a study by the Swedish insurance company Folksam found that a Hövding reduced the risk of head injury in accidents while travelling at 25 kilometres per hour to just 2%. With a conventional bicycle helmet the risk of head injury was 90% in the same test.
The airbag collars are everywhere — and they’re going global
Hövding’s collars are now sold in 16 markets in Europe, as well as Japan, and the company is now eyeing up the US market and Australia in the long term.
In May 2018, the company reached the milestone of 100,000 helmets sold since 2012, 48,000 of which were from the past 12 months. When the company, registered on Nasdaq First North, published its financial for the second quarter of 2018 it could boast a more than 100% increase in sales compared to the same period in 2017. The figures speak for the trajectory of the company’s growth.
The company’s CEO Fredrik Carling said: “When you see a Hövding on the street it generates trust in the product and an ‘aha’-feeling which is quite different from many other products,” he says. He also predicted earlier in 2018 that the helmet was about to reach that threshold in some of its strongest markets.
It also helps that Hövding-owners have a tendency of showing off the product on social media.
The helmets have made a splash with viral marketing
While mainstream adoption and word of mouth may be part of the story, the company attributed the new sales record in 2018 to the success of its latest marketing campaign — an aestheticised slow-motion video of a crash played in reverse.
It’s not the first time Hövding has successfully meddled with viral marketing . When Viral Thread posted a compilation of some of Hövdings clips in 2016 with stuntmen crashing while wearing the helmet it quickly reached 150 million views across various channels and became Viral Thread’s most viewed clip of all time.
“Our audience reacted to Hövding in a way we’ve never seen before. It’s our most watched video ever, with over 100 million views. The video is also our most shared with almost 2 million shares to friends and family. Our followers love the innovation and from many comments it’s apparent that there is an interest in both the technology and and in having an airbag when cycling,” founder and CEO of Viral Thread John Bolding said.
The price is the biggest drawback for most consumers
A Hövding costs about $300 in the company’s online store, but the second quarter report cites the average price to retailers as being half of that — which means you should be able to find one at bargain price every now and then.
What sweetens the deal is that most insurers — in Sweden at least — will cover the cost of the helmet as part of customers’ home insurance packages in the case of an accident. The protective efficacy makes it a good deal for insurance companies looking to incentivise customers to be safer in traffic.
There’s a caveat
Not everyone is satisfied with their Hövding, the most common complaint being that the airbag inflates unnecessarily. In some cases, the inflation is triggered by, for example, “putting one’s foot down” in traffic or even without being on a bike at all.
A common mistake is that people forget to turn the collar off when they get off their bikes, or activate it before they get on. In that case the company won’t replace it with a new one. But there have also been incidents where the algorithm erroneously detects an accident.
Hövding explained that there is a built in safety margin, which is improved continuously based on experience and data collected through testing.
A new helmet is on the horizon
In July, Hövding announced that it would issue new shares to finance the launch of the next version of the helmet ‘VEGA’, which is due for the autumn of 2019.
The new version is supposed to decrease the costs of production and logistics, increase production, improve performance, battery life, create a more ergonomic design, and provide Bluetooth connectivity.
Connecting the helmet to one’s smartphone via Bluetooth will enable integration with other products, apps, and remote software updates.
Published at Thu, 09 Aug 2018 14:07:24 +0000