More importantly, it could save your life.
Three years ago, Virginia Tech engineering student David Hall found out that his sister had been involved in a hit-and-run while riding her bike.
She hadn’t been wearing a helmet and having hit her head, spent the next four months in a coma.
While Hall’s sister made a full recovery, Hall and fellow engineering student Jordan Klein couldn’t help but think about bike helmets and specifically how riders are reluctant to wear them, despite the safety benefits.
The result of Hall’s pondering is a startup called Park & Diamond, which seeks to mass-produce a revolutionary helmet that looks like a baseball cap and can fold into the size of a water bottle.
The company’s name comes from the intersection where the incident with Hall’s sister happened. According to the pair, the headgear features 3D mesh fabrics, EVA foam cushioning, a polycarbonate shell, and patent-pending composite layers for better impact absorption.
It’s said to offer the same – if not better – level of protection as a traditional shell-shaped cycling helmet. And to top it off, the hip product can be collapsed and stored in its own little case that’s the size of a small water bottle.
The rationale behind the design is that it’s stylish and comfy enough that riders won’t mind wearing it regularly, and compact enough to bring it anywhere and everywhere.
When not in use, cyclists can just fold it away and store it in their bags.
Hall and Klein hope that by making helmets more easy to carry and stylish, Park & Diamond can help reduce the almost 85,000 head injuries related to not wearing a helmet that occur in America each year.
“When we first started, we thought we were going to be successful because we would just engineer a better product,” Klein told Fast Company.
“We realised that was really the wrong mindset, and the reality was that listening and understanding what the exact pain points were from customers and designing to exactly what they needed was really the key to delivering a more user-friendly device.”
“We’ve just been obsessed with designing something that is as unobtrusive as possible.”
After undergoing research and development in the last three years, the startup recently launched the product on Indiegogo earlier this month.
As of writing, the helmet has already raised more than A$1.41 million – surpassing their initial A$70,000 funding goal by a wide margin.
“We are overwhelmed with the responses we’ve received on Indiegogo. It’s really encouraging to see such a strong response from so many people who are showing that they are committed to wearing a helmet, and see our helmet as the solution,” Hall told Lost At E Minor.
“We thought when we created the Park & Diamond helmet that we created something special and the campaign’s response has proven that. The support is fuelling us to continue our efforts to protect as many heads as possible.”
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Continue on below to see the rest of our interview with David Hall, co-founder and president of Park & Diamond:
You started the company after that unfortunate accident involving your sister. What was your mindset when you decided to redesign bike helmets?
“I was devastated when I heard the news about my sister. As time went on people kept asking, ‘Was she wearing a helmet?’ She wasn’t, and my co-founder Jordan and I started asking ourselves why wasn’t she wearing one and why don’t most cyclists wear a helmet?
Luckily my sister is recovering, but as we investigated helmet safety, we found that 97 percent of cyclists who died in bike crashes were not wearing helmets and more than 85,000 people in the US suffer a serious head injury due to cycling crashes.
“\Experiencing the consequences first-hand and seeing how big this problem is, we decided we needed to do something about bike safety.”
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Use your head, just in case you ever have to, uh, use your head. Stay safe with the Park & Diamond helmet. Head over to http://bit.ly/2NBD77D (link in bio) to pre-order now! (Psst! You can also make some money by sharing our campaign…hit the link for details!) #style #safety #bikeride #crowdfunding
Where did you get the idea of disguising a helmet as a baseball cap?
“Through our own research, interviewing thousands of people, we learned three very consistent reasons why people don’t wear bike helmets: Traditional bike helmets are uncomfortable, are unattractive, and are inconvenient to carry.
Jordan and I then spent three years leveraging our engineering backgrounds to create the Park & Diamond helmet, which addresses all these key issues, plus safety.
It is designed to look like a fashionable baseball cap to make the helmet portion discreet and make it more appealing to wear every time someone hops on a bike or scooter. Our helmet also provides the highest level of protection and comfort, while being portable enough to be carried in your backpack or handbag.”
Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? Like how did you tackle the problem when you first started? What were the biggest challenges, and how did you respond?
“The first step for redesigning our helmet was to throw out everything we knew about conventional helmets and start with a blank slate. We evaluated EPS foam, the impact-absorbing material used in traditional bike helmets, and the material results in a bulky and rigid helmet.
Our first engineering challenge was to design a material that would allow us to create a helmet that was flexible with an alternative form factor while providing the same – or better – level of protection as other helmets. We utilised our team’s engineering and material science background to design our own proprietary composite material that allows the helmet to provide a high level of safety along with comfort, portability, and a customisable look.”
You’re about to reach the $1 million mark on Indiegogo. Are you surprised that the product would be this popular?
“We are overwhelmed with the responses we’ve received on Indiegogo. It’s really encouraging to see such a strong response from so many people who are showing that they are committed to wearing a helmet and see our helmet as the solution.
We thought when we created the Park & Diamond helmet that we created something special and the campaign’s response has proven that. The support is fuelling us to continue our efforts to protect as many heads as possible.”
Finally, what’s your vision for Park & Diamond?
“Our mission is to improve safety. The company is named after the intersection where my sister’s accident occurred. Our goal is for the long-term is to protect as many people’s heads as possible while developing accessible and portable products to fit everyone’s personal style – whether they are cycling, scooting, and potentially skiing, snowboarding, and skateboarding!”