Wearing a clunky bike helmet can be a real hassle, and even the sleeker and snazzier models don't exactly scream fashion statement. But there's no getting around the wisdom of safety first.

Now two designers in Sweden have developed a helmet that gives riders the best of both worlds with an invisible, or hidden, helmet known as The Hövding.

According to the designers' website, the shell of the helmet "can be varied in a virtually endless number of designs, colours, patterns and fabrics, turning Hövding into a fashion accessory."

The helmet is worn around the neck and then deploys in the same way as a car airbag when it senses enough impact. Designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin say, "It takes about 0.1 seconds to inflate and the airbag will be fully inflated before head impact."

The helmet, which runs on rechargeable batteries, costs $600.

Haupt and Alstin spent seven years on this project.

"To people like us, who wouldn't be seen dead in a polystyrene helmet, the thought that we might be forced to wear one by law was cause for concern," they wrote on their website. "Producing a bicycle helmet that people would be happy to put on looked like a much better way to go than legislation forcing people to wear one or else. We realised that our industrial design master thesis was the perfect place to find out whether the traditional bicycle helmet could be improved on."

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