Airbus patents VR helmet so you can forget you’re flying (Wired UK)


Airbus has filed a patent for helmets to provide “sensorial isolation.”

US Patent Office


In a world where economy-class seats are getting thinner and
lavatories are shrinking, any flight longer than an hour can feel
like a traveling prison. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is abetting
the shift, but a recent patent filing shows it hasn’t forgotten
about you, the passenger who actually has to sit in these miserable
flying cells. It’s considering helmets that will  let you forget you’re in an airplane at all.

Flying can be boring or stressful, which is why airlines provide
music, movies and bad TV. The next step appears to be thoroughly
immersing passengers in what they’re watching. “The helmet in which
the passenger houses his/her head offers him/her sensorial
isolation with regard to the external environment,” reads the 
patent filing.

The helmets feature headphones to provide music. You can watch
movies (perhaps in 3D) on the “opto-electronic” screen or possibly
through “image diffusion glasses.” If you want to get some work
done, turn on the virtual keyboard, which appears on your tray, don
a pair of motion capture gloves, and type away. The helmet could
even pipe in different odours for an olfactory treat, and the whole
thing would be nicely ventilated.


There would be various ways to wear the helmet, and the screen would go up and down.

US Patent Office


The idea, definitely in a preliminary stage, is both horrifying
and brilliant. Horrifying, because flying already stinks and the
need to strap on a virtual reality helmet to make you forget just
how hellish it is feels like a creepy add-on. Brilliant, because
there’s no reason to expect economy class to become pleasant
anytime soon, and the people packed into those thin, confining
seats already look for ways to distract themselves. Thus, eye masks
and noise-cancelling headphones. Virtual reality headsets like
the Oculus Rift
promise great things
. If people are getting excited about
wearing headsets that let
them play sweet games
, why wouldn’t they want to use them while
traveling?

Don’t expect the helmets anytime soon, though. This is merely a
patent filing, and an Airbus rep says the company isn’t doing
anything to bring the idea to market; it’s just protecting its IP.
Beyond that, adding something like this would require navigating
an American Ninja
Warrior-level obstacle course
 of regulations governing
absolutely everything about civil aviation. Then, airlines would
have to want to buy them. Cost aside, the added weight (read:
higher fuel bill) makes it a hard sell, especially since passengers
can entertain themselves quite nicely with an iPad or, for the
Luddites, a book.

If Airbus does bring this to market, it should include a setting
to virtually transport yourself to first class.


Fig. 14 shows the “image diffusion glasses” that could be included with the helmet. You can see how air would circulate in Fig. 15, and the virtual keyboard in Fig. 16.

US Patent Office


This article originally appeared in Wired.com

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17 September 2014 | 9:26 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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