Nine Innovators to Watch in 2018

Meet a group of trailblazers in medicine, education, art, transportation, artificial intelligence and more

(Dana Farber Cancer Institute; January Heuss; Suman Kanuganti; Cathy Carver)
smithsonian.com

A lot of people have good ideas. But only a few have the tenacity, discipline and single-mindedness to bring them to fruition. Here are nine groundbreakers to keep your eyes on in 2018.

Rachel Benyola: A Stylish, Foldable Bike Helmet

(AnneeLondon)

For all the evidence that bike helmets save lives—they’ve been found to reduce serious head injuries by 70 percent—most cyclists still don’t wear them all the time. One estimate puts the figure as high as 70 percent. 

That bothered Rachel Benyola, particularly since a close friend of hers became permanently blind in one eye as a result of a bike crash when she wasn’t wearing a helmet. So, a few years ago she committed herself to creating a helmet that bikers would want to wear.

That led to the launch of a company, AnneeLondon—named after Annie Londonderry Cohen, the first woman to ride a bike around the world—and ultimately, the unique design of a helmet called “The London.”

What makes The London distinctive is both how it looks—it’s made up of blackish triangular sections—and what it does—it folds like origami into the size of an iPad Mini.

Through the evolution of prototypes, Benyola says she talked to a lot of cyclists about why they didn’t like their helmets. They told her they were too bulky and unattractive, not to mention, hard to carry around and pack away.

“My vision was to offer cyclists a life-saving comfortable option,” she says. “The triangle was both a style and a structural choice. It’s a shape that will never go out of style. And it helps it fold down more.”

Benyola, who’s 29 and lives in Philadelphia, was recently named to Forbes 2018 “30 Under 30” list in the Manufacturing and Industry category.

She says “The London,” which can be pre-ordered at a cost of $189.99, will likely go on the market in the spring. 

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