Airbag-equipped cycling vest instantly inflates when accidents happen
According to French firm Helite, approximately 40 percent of serious bicycle-accident injuries involve the thorax, and 25 percent involve the spinal area. With that in mind, the airbag tech company has developed B'Safe, which is a cycling vest that inflates when the cyclist wipes out.
Showcased last week at CES, B'Safe actually consists of two parts: the reflective vest itself, and a separate electronic unit that gets mounted under the saddle. Between the two of them, they can respond to two main types of accidents.
In cases where the accident is caused by an impact to the bike, an accelerometer in the saddle unit detects the sudden shock. This causes the unit to wirelessly alert a motion sensor in the vest. If that sensor detects that the rider is falling off their bike, it causes a user-replaceable CO2 cartridge to instantly inflate the vest's airbag. The whole process, from detection to full inflation, reportedly takes just 80 milliseconds.
In non-impact incidents (such as if the bike tips over under slippery conditions), the vest's motion sensor still detects the rider's sudden change in orientation, causing the airbag to inflate.
The system is turned on simply by zipping the vest up, and is likewise powered down by unzipping. One USB-charge of the vest's battery should reportedly be good for seven days of use, while the saddle unit ought to be able to operate for five years on one battery.
A company rep tells us that B'Safe should be available this Spring in Europe and the US, priced at US$700. It's demonstrated in the video below.
Helite, incidentally, has previously developed wearable airbag systems to protect downhill skiers and seniors against fall-related injuries. Additionally, Swedish company Hövding already offers a neck-worn device that automatically inflates into a helmet when a cycling accident is detected.