Bad Idea of the Week: An Invisible Bicycle Helmet

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 17 2012 9:58 AM

Bad Idea of the Week: An Invisible Bicycle Helmet

invisible bicycle helmet
Screenshot

The "invisible bicycle helmet" deploys like an airbag before impact—you hope.

It's an inspiring story. A pair of Swedish university students saw a problem—people don't wear bicycle helmets because they're bulky, ugly, and uncomfortable—and set out to do the impossible. They set out to build an invisble bike helmet. People laughed in their face, of course. They endured sexism and condescension. Their attitude: "If people say it's impossible we have to prove them wrong."

The pair thought and thought, worked and worked, and after seven years, they figured it out. GE chronicled their quest in a beautifully rendered video, which this week has been delighting cyclists around the world via social media. Here's the video:

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It's an inspiring story and a clever design, but the result is a fundamentally silly product. Let me count the ways that this invisible bicycle helmet is a bad idea:

  1. It isn't invisible
  2. It costs $600
  3. You can only use it once
  4. Apparently they have already had to recall the helmet, because in at least one case the zipper came undone in a crash, rendering it useless
  5. JUST WEAR A NORMAL BICYCLE HELMET, PEOPLE!

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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