When it comes to life-saving protective gear, “collapsible” doesn’t seem like a word you’d want to hear, but this folding bike helmet just won a top design award for its unique design and unusual strength. Created from an expanding honeycomb of thick paper, the EcoHelmet designed by Isis Shiffer makes it easy for a commuter to carry a bike helmet anywhere they go, particularly when traveling in urban centers and making use of rented bikes. Shiffer created the low-cost helmet after realizing how difficult and expensive it could be to buy or rent a helmet while traveling overseas, where bike rentals are common but helmets are a different story.

The 28-year-old New York resident created the folding bike helmet in response to a conspicuous absence of helmets in bike-sharing programs. Rather than go without a helmet and risk major head injury in a crash, Shiffer designed the EcoHelmet as a portable option for cyclists who need a light load, but still care about their safety. The EcoHelmet was just named the international winner of this year’s James Dyson award, after securing the national prize in the US.

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The helmet’s creator, a graduate from the Pratt Design Institute in New York, has been working to develop sustainable bike helmet alternatives for some time. The EcoHelmet is her latest offering, and to ensure its worth, Shiffer developed the design while working with a crash apparatus during her brief time at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London. She plans to continue honing the design, perhaps adding a biodegradable waterproofing material like wax, before moving forward into production.

Ideally, Shiffer envisions the folding bike helmets for sale through vending machines, installed alongside bikeshare stations. For a low cost, cycle renters would have access to a safe, durable alternative that could be reused for some time. She is considering designing some kind of durability indicator for the helmets, so that users have a visual reminder of when it is time to recycle one helmet and pick up a new one. Winning the James Dyson award grants Shiffer with a $45,000 prize to develop her project, as well as a $7,500 prize to her university.

Via The Guardian

Images via Dyson