A folding cycle helmet is the international winner of this year’s James Dyson Award. Designed by Isis Shiffer from New York, the EcoHelmet is envisaged as an affordable, recyclable solution for those making use of bike share schemes.
“It just occurred to me that there was an infrastructure gap here,” Shiffer told The Guardian. “We have these fantastic schemes all around the world and if you want to wear a helmet you either have to bring your own or spend quite a bit of money.”
Her solution, made of card arranged in a honeycomb structure, has earned her a $45,000 prize to take the product towards production. She has now teamed up with an LA-based company to do this and the material costs are so low that she hopes to sell it for under $5.
“It is one size fits most,” she said. “These [helmets] are quite sturdy and the honeycomb stalls are arranged in such a way that they can protect the head from a blow from any direction.”
Shiffer developed the design while studying at the Pratt Design Institute in New York. When she subsequently attended the Royal College of Art and Imperial College in London, she began testing.
“I hadn’t done any tests, so I just brought them an armload of samples in different thicknesses and cell-sizes and materials and dropped stuff on them all day. And I was able to get enough data from that to say, okay, this is a sound idea. I can take it further.”
Shiffer envisages covering the helmet in some sort of waterproofing material – perhaps wax – with the addition of a wear indicator to show when it needs replacing.
As well as the cost, the helmet also seems to reduce in size far more effectively than other folding helmets. We’ve previously reported on the Carrera, the Pango and the Headkayse, all of which are still fairly sizeable when folded down – albeit the Headkayse does flatten to just 5cm wide.
“From here on, it’s all about manufacturing and testing,” said Shiffer, pointing out that although she has run tests herself, the helmet now needs to be certified.
Some people have certainly been inspired.
Dyson is going to love my new bike lock. pic.twitter.com/gY0Nda199r
— Bikebot (@bicyclebot) November 17, 2016