Paper Helmets Anyone?

Dec 10, 2016 By KarthikGanapathy
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Do you love to bike? But how annoying that you are ready to race your friends around the neighborhood, only to have an adult call out - ‘wear your helmet!’ 

It often happens that folks forget to, or simply avoid wearing their helmets because it is just very bulky and bothersome. Well that need not be the case any longer.

Recently Isis Shiffer, a cyclist and student of Pratt Institute New York, came up with a cool ‘Ecohelmet’ that meets safety needs of bikers and can be folded up to carry around easily. Her invention even earned her the James Dyson award!

The James Dyson Award is presented to recent design graduates or university students with unique ideas. Ms. Shiffer won the award of £30,000 to continue her development.

Safety First!

As concerns of global warming increase, people are realizing the benefits of commuting on bikes for health and the environment.

However, when sharing the road with automobiles, safety of the cyclist is very important. The helmet is a critical piece of protective equipment. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a serious brain injury by up to 88%!

 “You have one head. Protect it“ goes the slogan. Helmets have to meet many safety standards. It is constructed of layers of inflexible synthetic material such as padded foam – that offers the best possible protection, while being lightweight.

How Does A Helmet Work?

Have you noticed that a helmet has a hard exterior plastic shell and is lined with foam inside? It also has a strap to keep it firmly on the head. In case of a crash, a helmet absorbs the force of the fall. The foam crushes when the head hits the road and cushions the blow to save your brain. The shell prevents the neck from jerking while keeping the foam in place. So it important to secure the strap correctly.

But all that foam and plastic is what makes a helmet bothersome to store and carry around - especially if you travel to other cities and want to use bike-sharing schemes.

Now imagine if you had a foldable, lightweight helmet maybe made of paper? That is exactly what the Ecohelmet is. The same paper that a baby can easily rip, suddenly becomes a very stable and safe structure when folded into a honey-comb shape. Like beehives, it can now absorb impact very well. Besides, being made of disposable material, Ecohelmet costs less than $5 besides being easy to carry.

Still doubt if it is strong enough? The Ecohelmet was tested to meet all the requirements at the Imperial College of London. Ms. Shiffer tested multiple materials before finalizing her design, ensuring that the helmet is indeed safe for use.  The final model is coated with water-resistant material. But the helmet can deteriorate and weaken with time. To know when it is time to replace the helmet, it has an indicator that fades with usage. 

So if you are an enthusiastic biker, look out for the Ecohelmet. If all goes well for the product, it may be coming soon to your town...