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Strap This Linux-Powered NUC to Your Face for Virtual Productivity

Simula One VR Headset
(Image credit: Simula One)

The SimulaVR Simula One probably isn't going to wind up on our gaming-focused list of the best VR headsets, but it's certainly unique.  Its goal is to function as a VR workstation, by replacing your physical monitors with a virtual environment to get work done. The Simula One runs a Linux operating system on a small intel NUC attached to the headset itself.

Since the headset isn't aimed at gamers, high graphics horsepower is not required. So the team behind SimulaVR opted to use an Intel NUC 11 compute element equipped with a Core i7-1165G7 processor. It's a quad-core hyperthreaded CPU with a peak boost of 4.7GHz and Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics.

The screens used inside the VR headset equate to two 2448 x2448 panels that promise to be incredibly sharp compared to most gaming VR headsets. The headset will use a custom 3-lens design to accomplish this, which will provide a 100-degree field of view and 36.2 PPD or pixels per degree. SimulaVR notes that 36.2 is 3.27 times better than the Valve Index and 1.76 times better than the Quest 2. This means the Simula One will have some of the sharpest looking text of any headset on the market, which is great considering it's aimed toward productivity, where reading text is of the utmost importance.

The operating system Simula One uses is also called Simula, and it's a Linux desktop environment that runs on top of the Godot game engine to simulate the virtual experience. The operating system is capable of running any Linux desktop application within the virtual environment and provides high-resolution visibility of text within those applications with an optimized filter specifically designed for VR headsets. The OS comes pre-installed on the Simula One, but it can also be run on other VR headsets such as the HTC Vive and Valve Index.

Augmented reality is also being worked on for the Simula One, allowing the user to see the real world and virtual screens simultaneously. But, the implementation right now is in the testing stage and far from finalized.

But perhaps the best feature of the Simula One is its completely enclosed package, featuring the computer inside the headset, so there's no need to power the headset with an external PC. All that's required is power, internet, and control inputs for the unit.

The Simula One is in its prototyping stage at the moment, with no known release date. The device, for now, appears to be a testing bed for the Simula virtual reality operating system, which is available on GitHub to download now. But, the devs behind the Simula One do plan on eventually releasing the device in the future with a 12th Gen NUC, once Intel releases it.

Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.