According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year in the US alone, some 4,000 people are killed while riding motorcycles and a further 90,000 are injured.
By there very nature, motorcycles can be dangerous and improving the safety features for riders has commonly been a difficult task. However, in September 2015, motorcycle protective clothing company, Dainese, revealed a new motorcycle airbag jacket, called the Misano 1000.
While the motorcycle airbag jacket has been around for sometime now (check out the impressive stunts and special effects in this video from 2007), the thing that made the Misano 1000 special was that it was the first jacket of its kind that featured in-built airbag triggers within the jacket itself.
Originally, most airbag jackets featured a safety lanyard that was physically attached to the motorcycle, similar to the kill switch on a jet ski. If the rider was separated from the motorcycle, the lanyard would be pulled, which would trigger the jacket airbags to deploy. While the development was welcomed, accidental deployments were a frequent concern and the added protection was only available if the motorcyclist was riding his or her own bike.
Some later versions used sensors mounted on the bike itself, such as accelerometers mounted on the motorcycle fork that could detect an accident and trigger the jacket to inflate.
The newer motorcycle airbag jacket from Dainese, by comparison, incorporates sensors, electronics and a GPS that are built right into the jacket itself which, according to the company, are capable of independently detecting if the rider has has been in an accident.
The triggering algorithm, the true brain of the system, uses six sensors hosted in the back-protector to monitor the dynamics of the rider’s body 800 times a second and determines when to deploy the system in the event of impacts, high-sides and low-slides with tumbling.
Alpinestars, which has also been heavily involved in the development of motorcycle airbag jackets has updated its TechAir system, which has been widely used in the MotoGP World Championship since 2009, to incorporate similar technology. However, Dainese has challenged the Alpinestars design, which it says infringes on its patents.
Motorcycle airbag jacket market set for growth
Sales figures from both companies were not immediately available but a new report from Research and Markets has revealed an expected growth in the global motorcycle airbag jacket market, which the report said would be set to increase at a CAGR of 5.05% during the period 2016-2020.
According to the report, one driver fostering growth in this market is the growing pool of high-performance motorcyclists. The global demand for premium segment motorcycles has seen an upsurge over the past couple of years.
However the report acknowledges that affordability is still a hindrance to market growth with motorcycle airbag jackets with the technology adding an extra estimated $1,000 to the cost of a standard jacket.