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© STMicroelectronics Components | May 30, 2012

‘Invisible’ bike helmets with ST’s motion sensors

Motion sensors and microcontrollers from STMicroelectronics form the brain and senses of the airbag bicycle helmet invented by Hövding, a Swedish design house.
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.

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 electronics in the Hövding helmet are managed by an STM32 microcontroller.
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.

“In life-saving applications, you should never compromise on the choice of underlying technology,” said Anna Haupt, founder and inventor, Hövding. “ST’s market–leading motion sensors and microcontrollers, with unbeatable performance and minimal power consumption were a perfect match to our exacting design needs. Encouraged by the successful cooperation, we are now exploring additional possibilities with ST for improvements in next-generation helmets.”

“The Hövding helmet is an excellent example of how state-of-the-art design and technology combine to make a positive contribution to people's life,” said Benedetto Vigna, Executive Vice President and General Manager Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics. “Hövding’s decision to rely on our sensors and control chips confirms our industry leadership and enabling role in the development of innovative applications that put technologies in new contexts for the benefit of society.”
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