Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy This Patent-Pending Virtual Reality Helmet

Airbus' proposed helmet is stuffed with features that seem more Jetsons than jet travel.

Sep 16 2014, 4:35pm

Image: US Patent and Trademark Office

We like to romanticize commercial air travel. We fantasize about bathroom sex, and are afforded a God's eye view of the landscapes far, far below. But really, flying is a drag. Anyone who's been confined to a tiny airborne cylinder with a crying baby and an especially chatty cross-section of humanity can attest to this. Flying sucks. 

That's why European aviation manufacturer Airbus is trying to make air travel a little less hellish with a patent they filed for onboard individual  virtual reality headsets. 

Airbus' patent filing, which was dug up by Peter Terlato of Business Insider, describes a moveable isolation helmet not unlike those worn by silver-haired grannies at the hair salon. Invented by one Bernard Guering, the helmets would allow for passengers to watch films or listen to music in solitude, unperturbed by the unwashed masses.

Image:  US Patent and Trademark Office

The filing also describes how the helmet would come with glasses for diffusing images, giving any video displayed on the visor an immersive effect. A virtual keyboard would also be projected onto passengers' trays.

Part 1950s technological fever dream, part  Homer Simpson car for in-air entertainment, Airbus' proposed helmet is stuffed with features that seem more Jetsons than jet travel. For example, the helmets will have a cooling airflow system, an internet connection, be able to diffuse "odorous substances" throughout the helmet, and an airbag on the back because apparently this thing could kill the person sitting behind it in the case of sudden acceleration.

Although it remains to be seen if the patent will be accepted, not to mention actually implemented, the filing notes that the helmet could be installed on every seat in a plane, or on a select few as a paid option.

Airbus' patent filing comes at a time when virtual reality entertainment is finally (maybe) getting a little wind in its sails.  Oculus Rift has found use in flight simulators—you can fly like a bird—and Sony's Project Morpheus is being positioned as a way to bring consumer video games into the virtual realm. As overwrought as it seems, Airbus' patent may just be ahead of its time.