Category Archives: Product Insight

Innovation: airbag for cyclists

From the Harvard Gazette

Ethan Seder, S.B. ‘22, mechanical engineering

What did you do for your project?

For my thesis, I built an airbag for commuter cyclists that deploys from a backpack in the event of an accident. The device contains three subsystems: electronics and an algorithm used for accident detection, a mechanical gas release mechanism to inflate the airbag, and an expandable textile airbag deployed to protect the upper torso of the user. During testing, the device was able to reduce impact force by 94%.

Where’d your project idea come from?

During my gap year from school in 2020-2021, I got into a bike accident and realized how shocking it is that the only safety solution available to cyclists is the helmet. The helmet has limited energy absorption and leaves the upper body of the cyclist unprotected. The goal of my thesis was to build an elegant solution that protects the upper torso of cyclists, while integrating into a backpack that is already carried by commuter cyclists.

What real-world challenge does this project address?

Every year there are roughly 1000 fatal bike accidents and 50,000 bike-related injuries in the U.S. alone. The lack of adequate safety equipment is to blame, and my project aims to solve this unmet need. My backpack, which retains its normal functions, is able to reduce the severity of injuries sustained by cyclists.

Ethan Seder’s airbag uses electronics and a mechanical gas release system to deploy within 200 milliseconds of an accident. (Credit: Ethan Seder)

— Read it


Making a home sustainable: the HouseZero project for ultra-healthy, flexible, comfortable indoors

Professor Malkawi will talk about the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities HouseZero project, which aims to retrofit of its headquarters, a pre-1940s stick-built house on Harvard campus in Cambridge, into a prototype of ultra-efficiency. The structure will use no HVAC system, no electric light use during the day, 100% natural ventilation, almost zero energy, and produce zero carbon emissions.

HouseZero will feature an ultra-healthy, flexible, comfortable indoors that works to fundamentally redefine how a home connects with and responds to its natural environment to promote health and efficiency. All components of the building contain sensors that essentially turn HouseZero into a living lab, generating data that will allow the building to adjust itself and fuel further CGBC research focused on actual data and simulated environments.

The challenge is to retrofit existing houses to gain sustainability, more ecological, cost effective, and higher efficiency. Malkawi uses existing technologies with a new design approach to construct and operate buildings. He expects not only to implement sustainable practices but he advocates that this can lead to billion of dollars in savings per year.


DATE: Monday, July 10, 2017


Amphithéâtre Urbain,

Ecole Supérieure de Chimie et Physique Industrielle

10 rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris


TIME: 19:30 – 21:00


HCF 2017 members, non-members, guests:  10 euros

PSL staff, students and guests: 10 euros

This is joint event HCF and Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) event.

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