Folding helmet inspired by the pangolin and honeybees

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A variation of the Alpha Helmet with a chinstrap fully engaged on the right

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Scientists and inventors have been taking their cues from nature for centuries, but who would have thought the somewhat exotic pangolin (aka scaly anteater) and honeybees would influence a bicycle helmet design? That unlikely pairing is what inspired Golem Innovation to create the Alpha helmet, a folding noggin protector that retracts around your neck when not in use.

The impetus behind the design of the Alpha helmet was a simple one: create a helmet that would be lighter than existing ones and could easily be put away so you didn't have to hold it or run the risk of losing it.

The company's design team settled on the pangolin's ability to roll itself up into an ball as the primary design element, with the bee honeycomb as the influence behind the internal structure to give the helmet the ability to absorb hard impacts.

When the Alpha is not in use, it folds into itself and sits on your shoulders, taking up about as much space as the Hövding airbag for cyclists. To bring it into helmet mode, you reach around with one or both hands and the Alpha articulates into a half-faced helmet with built-in eye protection.

A double-lock system consisting of a mechanism on either side of the helmet must be engaged for the helmet to fold properly in either direction and stay locked in place. The helmet is also designed so that each of the sections or blades that comprise the foldable parts is overlaid in a way that adds to its overall stability and structural integrity. Additionally, the helmet incorporates a no-choke system that sees the chinstrap automatically break away if someone pulls the helmet from behind when it's folded up and sitting on your shoulders.

Golem Innovation says it is initially targeting winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, and most bicycle sports. Eventually, it wants to expand to include just about any sport where wearing a helmet is either necessary or prudent.

The company recently launched a Kickstarter program to raise over 200,000 (US $224,300) to help bring the Alpha helmet to market. Early backers can pre-order the Alpha for 175 ($195) with shipments expected by June 2017 if the company is successful in taking this helmet from concept to completion.

Over the past few years, several different companies have introduced varied versions of foldable helmets like the Headkayse, Morpher, and Overade. However, none of these have the articulating design of the Alpha and they must be fully removed to take advantage of their folding capability.

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