Man makes VR headset that kills the user if they die during game
"There are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time."
The man who created Oculus rift and the father of modern virtual reality (VR) has created a headset that will kill the user if they die during gameplay but, naturally, "does not have the balls" to try it himself.
Palmer Luckey, who sold Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion, made the deadly device to commemorate the anime Sword Art Online (SAO). Mark Zuckerberg used Oculus tech as the foundation for Meta.
Luckey’s killer headset looks like a Meta Quest Pro hooked up with three explosive charge modules that sit above the screen, Vice noted. The charges are aimed directly at the user's forebrain and, if activated, would kill the user.
“The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me—you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it,” Luckey wrote in a blog post explaining the project.
“Pumped-up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game.”
In SAO, players put on a NerveGear virtual reality headset and log into a new game only to discover a mad scientist has trapped them in a virtual world. The players then have to fight their way through a 100-floor dungeon to escape. If they die, they die in real life.
Luckey published his post about the killer headset on Sunday (6 November), the day that Sword Art Online went live in the world of the game’s fiction.
“The good news is that we are halfway to making a true NerveGear. The bad news is that so far, I have only figured out the half that kills you,” Luckey said.
In SAO, the NerveGear kills players with a microwave emitter. According to Luckey, the device’s creator “was able to hide from his employees, regulators, and contract manufacturing partners. I am a pretty smart guy, but I couldn’t come up with any way to make anything like this work, not without attaching the headset to gigantic pieces of equipment.”
Unable to replicate the device, Luckey opted for explosive modular charges instead, tying them to a narrow-band photo sensor that detects when the headset views that the game is over.
“When an appropriate game-over screen is displayed, the charges fire, instantly destroying the brain of the user,” Luckey said.
Luckey said that he used three explosive charges he usually uses for a “different project.”
He did not go into specific details, but Luckey is also the founder of Anduril, a weapons and defence contractor which won massive contracts with the government, and that is already developing loitering munitions, anti-drone tech for US special forces, and underwater drones, Vice reported.
“I have plans for an anti-tamper mechanism that, like the NerveGear, will make it impossible to remove or destroy the headset,” Luckey said.
“Even so, there are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself.”
Read Palmer Luckey's full blog post here.