(Photo: TriStar Pictures )
Once again, Airbus is giving us reason to either be excited about the future of air travel — or incredibly frightened.
In the latest in its series of “You-Can’t-Make-This-Up” U.S. Patent applications, the aircraft manufacturer is revealing plans for a virtual-reality isolation helmet. Airbus says it’s designed to give air passengers of the future a sensory-deprivation environment where they can fully immerse themselves in the in-flight entertainment and tune out the unpleasantness of air travel: air raging passengers, crying babies, and the loud drunks in row 23.
“It is known that aircraft flights generate stress for certain passengers,” Airbus says in the patent application. “An aim of the invention is to improve in this respect the comfort of aircraft passengers.”
The future of in-flight entertainment? Air passengers may soon get their very own sensory deprivation/virtual reality helmets (Graphic: U.S. Patent Application)
In its detailed patent application, Airbus says it envisions airplane seats with high-tech headrests equipped with helmets. Each headrest/helmet combo would come with a built-in video screen, movable glasses and earphones that a passenger could use to watch movies, play video games and listen to music. The design even allows for “olfactory” isolation — meaning you’d get your choice of relaxing smells to enhance your flying experience.
Our favorite feature of the future flight helmet: a mini-airbag to keep you from hitting your head during turbulence.
The helmets of the future could help us tune out the fact that, at its current rate, economy class legroom will probably be reduced to about 2 inches (Graphic: U.S. Patent Application)
Such virtual reality headgear are staples of science fiction movies. In “Demolition Man,” Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock use them to have virtual sex (it doesn’t go well). In the original “Total Recall,” Arnold Schwarzenegger uses one to go on a virtual vacation (that goes even worse).
Sandra Bullock made her virtual headgear look good in “Demolition Man” (Photo: Warner Bros.)
Airbus has been getting a lot of attention lately for its eyebrow-raising patent applications. In the past few months, we’ve seen its plans for windowless cockpits and uncomfortable-looking benches that would replace cushioned airplane seats.
Airbus recently filed a patent that would replace cushioned airplane seats with bicycle seats (Graphic: U.S. Patent Application)
Airbus recently told Yahoo Travel they’re just spitballing ideas to see what sticks. “It is just a patent,” Airbus Communications Manager Mary Anne Greczyn told us in July. She said Airbus files thousands of patents for pretty much all the ideas their engineering and design teams come up with — regardless of how bizarre those ideas might be. “In order to satisfy the needs of our airline customers and their passengers, our industry looks into a future a year and a hundred years ahead.”
But with their patent applications getting more bizarre by the day, one has to think that Airbus is either pranking us or their R&D team is inhaling some really, really good… design manuals.