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Have Your Say - What Do You Think Is The Next Big Hardware Development?

Just like real motorsports, sim racing is steadily evolving, and especially the hardware side of things has made enormous progress in recent years. With all the advancements having been made, this begs the very interesting question: What is next? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

The aim of sim racing is to simulate real racing as well as possible. Of course, this also applies to the hardware, which has gotten more and more apparent with the improvements that have been made and due to cooperations like the one between Fanatec and Bentley or BMW - the result is wheels that can be used in a real race car as well as in a sim rig.

When it comes to force feedback, direct drive wheel bases are now capable of accurately reproducing the forces that a driver would feel on track in a real car, complete with risk of injury and, of course, much more detail. Sim racing hardware manufacturers are just now starting to make these systems more affordable to virtual racers, whereas a few years ago, using a DD wheel base outside a professional simulator was almost unthinkable.

With FFB being so close to the real forces now, this begs the question: What piece of hardware is going to see big improvements going forward? A strong candidate would be pedals - brakes have transitioned from using pedal position to load cells, and offerings from manufacturers like Heusinkveld make it possible to have incredibly stiff brake pedals - again, like in a real race car.

However, there is not much else happening with the stopping pedal in the majority of sets to date. At ADAC SimRacing Expo, though, SimTag and D-BOX presented hydraulic pedals that included haptic feedback, which means it is possible to feel ABS kicking in - a feature that proved immensely helpful to brake at the limit in a GT3 car, for example. It is also possible to simulate longer brake travel should the discs overheat and other pedal behavior, increasing the immersion factor and helping the braking process at the same time. The only downside, at least for now, is the price - the SimTag pedals were listed at about €5.500 at the Expo.

Of course, there is a lot more sim racing equipment that might see more development in the near future - what do you think is going to take a big step forward next? And what piece of equipment would you personally like to see improved? Let us know in the comments!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Life-long motorsports and racing game fan as well as racing history enthusiast. I write stuff here and on www.simracing-unlimited.com and try to be not too mediocre when sim racing with varying degrees of success :confused:

Comments

In my opinion, hardware without software is sometimes pointless and the most obious example is H-shifting. The world needs a software standard that defines a 2-way comunication (wired or wireless) between clutch pedals and H-shifters, so that hardware manufacturers can develop models that are compatible, and so that sim developers can implement that into the games, thus providing realistic H shifting, which implies locks and tactile grinding when the clutch is not fully pressed, jerkyness when the clutch is released suddently, stalls, etc.
 
  • Standarization: having a fanatec rim, a thrustmaster or a logitech one with a integrated display that can work out of the box with any display software you choose, for example simhub. The choice of software won't matter, as the communication protocol with the wheel will be standard.
  • Hardware customizability: for example a pedal controller that allows you to select custom input sensitivity curves for each pedal, integrating all the DXTweak2 in that interface, options to filter outputs... If the manufacturers standarize it, it could be adjusted with the same software as the displays and FFB settings
  • Ecosystem agnostic hardware: you purchase a Fanatec rim and you mount it on a thrustmaster wheebase with no adaptors and with all the controls just working.
  • More displays everywhere: it surprises me that we have come such a long way since the DIY community started to make displays without the manufacturers jumping straight into it, it is dissapointing that it took until 2021 for a manufacturer to build a fully licensed F1 rim, it's also dissapointing that the rim isn't a accurate replica.
  • More rotarys on the rims: we are in need of way more controls, specially customizable rotary controls. Just look in 2005 in Rfactor 1 controls section how much features are included that can't be mapped to any wheel because of lack of buttons and rotarys. Modern simulators keep that trend.
  • Load cell and hall sensor standarization even in the cheapest pedal sets: in 2021 no longer makes sense nor is excusable to keep building sets of pedals with potentiometers. They keep doing it because that way the pedals wear and their customers have to purchase a new set again and again.
  • More adjustability on pedals: not up to the point of a Heusinkveld set of pedals, but nowadays we are lacking at least the adjustability of the amount of pedal travel and the stiffness of the brake and clutch pedals.
  • FFB on the brake pedal simulating ABS.
  • Gear driven FFB wheel bases dissapear: It's way too loud, a bad ffb experience for the user and a technology obsolete in simracing. The minimum should be belt driven FFB for any cheap wheelbase.
  • VR: increase in FPS up to a point in where there is no visible lag, increase in resolution up to a point in where a user could read small displays with a similar ease as in real life, advancement in PC hardware that can back all the points formely mentioned. At that point the VR is going to be as mainstream as it will ever be.
I can't imagine any other improvement outside of that list. The simracing hardware has reached almost maturity in the tech that can be applied to wheels and pedals, we are only going to see some marginal gains here and there.

The only technology limiting factor even now is just the budget of every simracer. A hydraulic set of pedals with FFB , a state of the art rim, a sturdy frame with hydraulic or magnetic actuators is never going to be cheap nor mainstream because of those unavoidable unaffordable prices due of the nature of the tech itself.
 
In my opinion, hardware without software is sometimes pointless and the most obious example is H-shifting. The world needs a software standard that defines a 2-way comunication (wired or wireless) between clutch pedals and H-shifters, so that hardware manufacturers can develop models that are compatible, and so that sim developers can implement that into the games, thus providing realistic H shifting, which implies locks and tactile grinding when the clutch is not fully pressed, jerkyness when the clutch is released suddently, stalls, etc.
Frex already has something like that. They have a controller that lets their clutch pedal speak to the H-Shifter and blocks it if the clutch is not pressed over the threshold. Of course its somewhat rudimentary and probably only works with thtier hardware, but it could be a starting point to implement the in-game car into this, with different thresholds for clutch biting points per car, faster/slower gearboxes and so on.

 
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Proper motion tracking device for better in game animated driver.
It's quite annoying when you see the driver in the monitor's doing completely different thing.
Like, when you're keep hitting redline and off the throttle again, again and again,
our virtual driver's brain would freak out, and their hand's gonna grab steering wheel and gear knob randomly forever.
This is why I usually just hide the driver arms or whole steering wheel in sims.
Probably it's not easy to implement because of different device setup and the software itself, but I think it worth the resources for next level experience :whistling:
 
Without even seeing the picture, I was about to comment "hydraulic pedals with FFB". :rolleyes:
 
I don't understand the point with the simtag pedals and what you wrote about overheating.
There is a certain pedal travel in a car. You press brake pads against brake disc.
When brakes are cold or to hot, there is not enough friction between Disc an Pads as when they are in perfect temperature...
So, when brakes overheat you have to press more firm to reach the decelaration wanted.

But that comes from the sim, not the pedals.
I don't see the point ov changing brake pedal behavior there...

BTW, concerning abs. I have custom rumble motors in my pedals. They start moving when Tyre grip on front axis is at the limit.
It helps immensely to have the max possible brake pressure at each braking zone... Don't see a real benefit except for immersion for a real abs in pedals.
 
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I don't understand the point with the simtag pedals and what you wrote about overheating.
There is a certain pedal travel in a car. You press brake pads against brake disc.
When brakes are cold or to hot, there is not enough friction between Disc an Pads as when they are in perfect temperature...
So, when brakes overheat you have to press more firm to reach the decelaration wanted.

But that comes from the sim, not the pedals.
I don't see the point ov changing brake pedal behavior there...

BTW, concerning abs. I have custom rumble motors in my pedals. They start moving when Tyre grip on front axis is at the limit.
It helps immensely to have the max possible brake pressure at each braking zone... Don't see a real benefit except for immersion for a real abs in pedals.
Thats true until you start to boil the brake fluid. Thats why you see pro drivers tapping the brakes long before a corner to make sure they wont need to pump them to stop. So its actually accurate.
 
I'm not a VR player despite having one. But the reason I don't use VR is I think we are missing one vital innovation. The ability to see your hands. We need someone to work on an interface between VR, Hardware (wheel & Button boxes etc) and the game.

Image that you could select your kit in game and that was the wheel you saw in game. Then if you could see your hands in VR the button presses would correlate wit h your movement.

I don't know, maybe it's just me but I think that would be quite cool.
 
Isn't it more an issue that true mid range hardware isn't really a thing anymore? Most of us started with the lower Logitech wheels like the Momo or driving Force series, which doesn't exist anymore.

It's a steep step from china crap low end wheels to what's advertised as mid rage today. When I was still a school student I did not have the money for any of that.

A low torque DD wheel (~2NM) with a "simple" two pedal set and screw-on seq shifter should be cheap enough to make once you produce enough volume.
 
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I know for sure, whats missing: VR-Gloves and ingame support for them.
Trackable Objects are also needed, which are getting visible in the VR World. Things like cigarettes, beer bottles, Guns, etc.
Cant wait to have a beer while shooting targets out of my side window, or showing you the middle finger when overtaking me.
 
unless ffb api won't receive a substantial update and move from its original state, which is still the same since the 90s, every new hardware won't be much of an improvement. sure, it will be "more immersive", but I think it's time to seriously rethink how ffb works and this can only be done directly by microsoft itself.
 

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