Oculus Rift, breathing cars imagined as the future of F1
Oculus Rift helmets could show Formula 1 racing drivers invisible airflows to help them steer breathing cars to victory on intelligent grass racetracks.
Oculus Rift augmented reality helmets and breathing cars could be the future of F1, according to artists and designers imagining the future of the high-speed sport.
Wearing an augmented reality helmet, Formula 1 drivers like Lotus F1's Romain Grosjean can actually see a representation of invisible forces like the airflow coming off the cars in front, allowing drivers to effectively use the slipstream of their opponents as they race.
But the rival cars could counter that with a "breathing" car that changes shape to create "dirty wind", preventing competitors from taking advantage of their slipstream.
The virtual reality racer appears in "Human Ignition", a new documentary in which Lotus looks to the the future of F1 by recruiting artists and designers such as Harold Belker, designer for "Tron: Legacy", "Minority Report" and "Iron Man".
Belker envisages a breathing F1 car made of memory alloy that flexes the shape of the car, opening and closing intakes to take in different amounts of air to cool the engine and brake or increase thrust -- the car taking a "deep breath" as it goes into a corner and then releasing air to accelerate into the straight.
The changing shape of the car could also be controlled by sensors that scan your brain activity, adding the driver's thoughts to the myriad of data and telemetry already tracked by high-tech Formula 1 cars.
As well as the augmented reality display and shape-changing car, other wacky races ideas include pop-up racetracks lined with safety airbags and intelligent grass that reacts to the cars as they speed past.
If you don't have your own F1 car in the garage, donning an Oculus Rift headset could give you a crack at a Tron-style light cycle, or you could hit the streets with the real thing on a custom-built street-legal electric Tron Lightcycle and the Lotus C-01 designed by the guy who created vehicles for "Tron: Legacy", "Captain America" and "Oblivion".