Recyclable helmet for bike share schemes wins Dyson award

Published: 10 January 2018 By Mark Hilliard

Recyclable helmet for bike share schemes wins Dyson award

€5 lightweight fold-away helmet uses honeycomb to protect head from impact

Mark Hilliard

James Dyson congratulates Isis Schiffer, graduate of the Pratt Institute of Design in New York on winning the 2016 International James Dyson Award.

James Dyson congratulates Isis Schiffer, graduate of the Pratt Institute of Design in New York on winning the 2016 International James Dyson Award.

A foldable, recyclable helmet for users of bike share schemes has won the €40,000 International James Dyson Award.

The EcoHelmet was the brainchild of Isis Shiffer, a graduate from the Pratt Institute of Design in New York City.

The lightweight design, which should retail at under €5, uses a unique honeycomb configuration to protect the head from impact, and folds flat when not in use.

A biodegradable coating makes it resistant to rain for up to three hours.

Around the world, including in Ireland, bike share programmes are on the rise and are used by millions of people. But users rarely wear helmets.

 

Last year, nine cyclists died on Irish roads generally while in the US the number was over 800.

The cell structure of EcoHelmet distributes any impact evenly around the head as effectively as a traditional polystyrene helmet. It will protect the user from a blow coming from any direction.

The simplicity of its construction, coupled with its inexpensive materials, will keep the manufacturing cost low. Shiffer says she plans to sell each unit at bike share stations for $5 (€4.70) per helmet.

“I was lucky enough to be studying at Royal College of Art and the Imperial College of London for a semester, and was granted access to [its] crash lab,” Shiffer said.

“They had a European standard helmet crash setup that allowed me to gather enough data on Ecohelmet’s proprietary honeycomb configuration to know it was viable and worth developing.”

Commenting on the winner, James Dyson said the product solved an obvious problem with a simplicity that “belies an impressive amount of research and development”.

The James Dyson Foundation was set up in 2002 to support design engineering education, medical research and local charities in the UK.

International runners-up this year included “Respia” from Australia, an asthma management system that tracks and records the user’s respiratory health and medication use, and Smart Contact Lens Platform from Canada which uses state-of-the-art engineering and nanotechnology to create a contact lens with a sensor that can continuously monitor glucose levels in diabetics.

In September, the winners of the Irish leg of awards were announced among the top 20 global finalists.

HydroFLOcean (H-FLO) is a device designed to prevent workmen getting trapped under water designed by a team of engineering students from Cork Institute of Technology.

The idea was inspired by the deaths of two workmen, TJ O’Herlihy and Bryan Whelan, who were killed in Limerick last year when the platform on which they were working collapsed into the River Shannon.

Using the same inflation device employed in life jackets to activate a gas canister, it forces the device to split in two when underwater, separating workers from platforms.

 

Previously published in The Irish Times.

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