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International Winner

EcoHelmet

EcoHelmet is a folding, recyclable, vendable helmet for bike share. Made of waterproofed paper in a unique radial honeycomb pattern, EcoHelmet empowers cyclists to ride more confidently, more safely and more often.

What it does

EcoHelmet is a folding, recyclable, vendable helmet for bike share. Made of waterproofed paper in a unique radial honeycomb pattern, EcoHelmet empowers cyclists to ride more confidently, more safely and more often.


Your inspiration

Cycling is the healthiest and most ecologically sound way to get around cities. Around the world, bike share programs are giving commuters and tourists a convenient, inexpensive way to move from point A to point B. But bike share users very rarely wear helmets--no one wants to carry a helmet around all day, and rental helmets can be unsanitary or ill-fitting. In busy cities, crashes do occur, and wearing a helmet can reduce the chance of injury or death by 85%. If cycling is going to become truly ubiquitous, riders need the option to have a spontaneous ride whenever they like, without fearing for their safety.


How it works

EcoHelmet gives bike share users a helmet that can be purchased with the bike rental and recycled after the ride. Its flat folded state is ideal for vending machines and it requires no assembly to put on. Just place on the head, pull down the straps and clip. The naturally stretchy material conforms to most head sizes. The unique cell structure distributes any impact evenly around the head as effectively as a traditional polystyrene helmet. Due to the radial nature of the cells, it will protect the user from a blow coming from any direction. A biodegradable coating makes it resistant to rain for up to three hours. EcoHelmet is fully recyclable product. Ideally, a special disposal container would be made available at bike rental stations, allowing used EcoHelmets to be recycled into new ones with minimal waste. The material cost (recycled paper and biodegradable coating and adhesive) are so minimal that the individual units could be sold for under $5.


Design process

EcoHelmet has been through several stages of development to arrive at a design that both works and looks good. Early prototypes worked, but looked like pineapples; intermediate prototypes looked great and fell apart. The final three block design is fully functional and echoes the leather helmets of the 1970s. It was important to me to keep the price as low as possible and the look as universally appealing as I could. I took prototypes to the crash lab at Imperial College, London for testing and they passed European standards well. I spoke with bike share organizers, bike advocates, safety experts and cyclists throughout the process and their help has been invaluable in creating a product that people actually want to use. I am currently working to design tooling for mass production. Radial honeycomb does not currently exist, so custom machinery will be necessary to create helmets in any quantity.


How it is different

EcoHelmet folds smaller and costs less to produce than any other helmet on the market. It is also 100% recyclable. While other paper helmets exist they are coated in plastic and use polystyrene elements making them hard to recycle. 12-15 folded EcoHelmets fit into a traditional helmet box, making shipping and vending exponentially easier.


Future plans

EcoHelmet has evolved into its own startup. I am currently exploring prototyping and third party testing to get it certified for sale. I am also working to develop a longer lasting, customizable model for repeated use.


Awards

Student Runner Up in Core77 Design Awards, Transportation Division.


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