Anirudha Surabhi, who recently finished an industrial design degree at London's Royal College of Art, created a tough waterproof recycleble cardboard bicycle helmet for his final year project. With the help of a £20,000 grant from the James Dyson Fellowship, Surabhi is hoping to bring the product to market within the next few months.
Branded Kranium, the cardboard helmet is said to weigh less than standard polystyrene helmets yet offer four times greater impact protection. There's a video of the helmet here on YouTube, taken at the Cycle Show.
The cardboard ribs first flex then crumple upon impact. Unlike polystyrene helmets - which have to be replaced after an impact - the Kranium can withstand multiple impacts, claims Surabhi.
He's hoping bike shops will stock his head measuring equipment and then construct the helmets after they have been custom made.
Cardboard ribs are pressed out of a sheet of corrugated cardboard and pieced together to make a helmet inner. Customers then choose helmet outers made from thin plastic and accessorise with different kinds of straps.
The corrugated cardboard will not form a mush after a rainstorm or from a user sweating as it's impregnated with an acrylic waterproofing agent. The treated cardboard is still recyclable despite the chemical treatment.
Surabhi said his helmet exceeds the EN1078 helmet standard.
He said he expects the retail price of a Kranium helmet to be £80, including head measuring. Replacement helmets would be cheaper.
Surabhi said he has received financial backing for his company from a number of angel investors but is seeking others to enable him to bring his product to market as quickly as possible.
As well as bespoke helmets, Surabhi believes cheaper mass-produced cardboard helmets, in fixed sizes, could be dispensed through a vending machine for city cycle hire schemes.
He launched his concept at the Cycle Show currently taking place at London's Earls Court. The show lasts until Sunday.