Creator of the First Modern Consumer Virtual Reality Headset Has Made One That Can Kill Users

CC0 / / Virtual reality helmet
Virtual reality helmet  - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.11.2022
Palmer Luckey is considered the father of modern virtual reality. He is also the creator of the Oculus Rift headset, which broke records on Kickstarter in 2012 and ushered in a new era for the virtual reality industry. Oculus was purchased by Meta* in 2014 for $2 billion.
The creator of the first modern consumer virtual reality headset has created a new headset prototype and if you put it on, your gaming session will have extremely high stakes: you could die.
Palmer Luckey was a huge fan of the anime Sword Art Online, a series about a virtual reality multiplayer online video game where the players die in real life if they die in the game.
In the series’ lore, the deadly game goes online on November 6, 2022. To celebrate that date, Luckey says he modified a Quest Pro headset to make it capable of killing the user through three directed explosives pointed at the user’s head.
Luckey says the headset contains real explosives and is not a simple proof of concept - but he doesn’t expect anyone to put it on anytime soon. He calls it “a piece of office art.”
But, the VR-obsessed technophile does say he sees value in the concept.
“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 said. “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.”
The explosives are triggered by a photosensor that signals when the screen flashes red at a specific frequency. The system would make it very easy for developers to integrate it into their “game over” screens - that is if someone actually wanted to make a game that could kill its players.
While, unlike the “NerveGear” in Sword Art Online, this headset can be taken off without killing the user, Luckey says he has proposals in the works. “I have plans for an anti-tamper mechanism that, like the NerveGear, will make it impossible to remove or destroy the headset.”
Luckey seems interested in pushing his luck with the system as well. While he has not put on the headset himself yet, he says that is only because he fears the system being set off at the wrong time. At present, he believes the system needs to be handled like it is in the anime - by a “high-intelligence agent” that can ensure the conditions are correct.
While to most sane people, the concept sounds morbid and suicidal, Luckey contends it is not much different than some real-life sports, where death or permanent injury is a real possibility. According to Luckey (and common sense), the headset is “the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user,” adding ominously: “It won't be the last.”
Luckey left Oculus when he sold it to Meta in 2014. He made headlines last month by calling Meta’s iteration of the metaverse – Horizon Worlds – “terrible” and “not fun” though he did add that it could improve in the future.
*Meta is a company banned in Russia over extremism
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