Speaking of inflatable sewn products, Business 2.0’s April issue has an article entitled “Engineering a Soft Landing”.
…an up-close glimpse of Japan’s Kenji Takeuchi and his $1.5 million Hit-Air line of airbag-equipped jackets. After witnessing a 1994 motorcycle accident in which the rider “flew into the air and landed hard on the ground,” Takeuchi wondered how he could protect motorcycle riders.
An airbag on the motorcycle itself obviously wouldn’t work, as riders usually fall fly far from their bikes in a crash. Takeuchi learned that upper-body impacts cause 90 percent of fatalities and serious injuries in traffic accidents, so he considered sewing an airbag into a motorcycle jacket.
In 1996, Takeuchi’s company built its first prototype jacket. Initially shunned by motorcycle manufacturers, the Japanese inventor nevertheless began selling the jackets in 1999 under the name Eggparka. He re-launched the brand as Hit-Air in 2001.
In the case of an emergency, the early jacket – like eventual production versions – worked kind of like a fire extinguisher: an airbag inside inflated automatically when a pin connecting the jacket to the bike was pulled from its socket forcefully. A release button allows riders to demount with one touch.