We first saw Anirudha Surabhi's "Kranium" bicycle helmet shortly after he presented his graduation project at the Royal College of Art. Two years and £20,000 (courtesy of a James Dyson grant) later, the "Kranium" will finally be available to savvy cyclists in Europe.
Surabhi, who goes by Ani for short, essentially designed the helmet from scratch: "the revolutionary Kranium liner is based on the corrugated structure found in the woodpecker and it is this structure, which provides the right amount of crumple zone to absorb impact energy."
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) helmets are proven to protect your head only 20% of the time. The Kranium liner has proven to absorb 3 times the amount of impact energy during collision. At the same time, it is 15% lighter than Polystyrene helmets. EPS helmets are made from petroleum based products where are the Kranium liner is made from recycled paper. They have been tested at several test labs across the globe, including TUV in Germany and HPE in the UK. They have been developed for mass production and will be available in the market in December 2012.
As Ani explains in the must-see video (below), the project originated in his final year at the Royal College of Art, when he had the misfortune of falling off his bike and cracking the helmet which he was wearing at the time. The rest, as they say, is history:
Having suffered minor concussions, I decided to take this as a design challenge and create the safest helmet on the planet. Looking into nature, the woodpecker is one of the only animal which experiences the same kind of impact on a regular basis. In fact, it strikes the tree ten times a second and closes its eyes every time so that they don't pop out, which means a monumental amount of energy that goes through its head.
Upon closer inspection, I found that it is the only bird in the planet where the beak and skull are not attached to each other: it has a corrugated cartilage structure to absorb the impact, which is why it doesn't have a massive headache after a good days' work. So I set about creating the perfect material to mimic the qualities of the woodpeckers' natural shock absorber.
After testing 150 different materials, I developed the perfect board for the job. This material does such a good job that It has been tested and proven to absorb three times the amount of impact on collision. The D2 board has been invented solely for this purpose. The board has been engineered to absorb the impact energy by collapsible air-filled honeycomb cells.
Over the last two years, I have been working to bring the product to market and has several partnerships with various brands across the world including ABUS, STG, Bern, etc. Market research done by Sheffield Hallam University suggests that there is a 90% acceptance for the new technology as well. The Kranium liner is also being developed for the Formula 1 racing team (Force India) due to its unique impact absorbing qualities.
Seriously though, watch the video:
No word on pricing or if it will make its way Stateside, though we imagine it'll come in at less than the €499 pricetag of the Invisible Bike Helmet, but considering that Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin's project was some seven years in the making, the Kranium will be under $200—assuming, of course, that cost directly correlates to development time...
UPDATE: Ani pointed out that ABUS will be their first helmet offering in the U.S. market come 2013.
Head over (pun not intended) to Ani's portfolio site (under construction as of press time) for updates and details regarding availability.
Name that cyclist!