Said to be the world’s first VR sim racing helmet, the HelmetVR is perhaps the ultimate in VR sim racing excess, combining a real Arai racing helmet with an Oculus Rift headset. The custom headset comes from FormulaVR, a Netherlands-based, high-end sim rig manufacturer.
It is sometimes claimed that VR headsets provide a similar field of view to a racing helmet. This is inaccurate, as the peripheral vision specification for a helmet that complies with the Snell SA2015 standard (as required by the FIA) has a horizontal clearance of “at least 180 degrees”, far wider than the 100 degrees-or-lower FOV offered by current-generation VR headsets. That said, integrating a Rift into a real helmet has some benefits – obviously providing the realistic sensation of wearing a helmet, but also balancing the weight of the headset more evenly across the head. Combined with a surround sound system, the simulation’s audio output would also be filtered realistically before it reached the driver’s ears.
The HelmetVR is “handmade to order in a limited series”, starting at €2459. According to the HelmetVR website, “using a helmet provides an extra dimension and specific sensations to a driver’s head, adding reality to any simulation”. Used in combination with FormulaVR’s F-VR1 motion rig, as demonstrated in the video, there is undoubtedly some truth to the statement, as it would complete the package – wearing a full race suit, sitting in a realistically-shaped cockpit with the correct driving position, operating high-end sim hardware. If you’re going that far, why not?
For the average home user with a wheel and pedal sim setup however, this is rather unnecessary, and using a VR headset alone is more practical. Using a full helmet might balance the weight better, but it would also be much hotter during long sessions, and the design appears to make it far more difficult to quickly glance at something in the real world. The price you pay for realism…