A major defense contractor responsible for the development of virtual reality has reportedly designed a headset that actually kills the user if he or she dies in a video game.
“Palmer Luckey, defense contractor and the father of modern virtual reality, has created a VR headset that will kill the user if they die in the game they’re playing,” reports Vice News. “He did this to commemorate the anime, Sword Art Online. Luckey is the founder of Oculus, a company he sold to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. This is the technology that Mark Zuckerberg rebranded as the foundation for Meta.”
The ‘killer headset’ resembles a Meta Quest Pro that comes with three explosive charge modules that rest above the screen. They are aimed directly at the front part of the user’s head and, if they go off, would obliterate it.
“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 noted in a blog post laying out 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.”
According to Luckey, the anime and light novel series Sword Art Online made people interested in virtual reality, especially in Japan. In SAO, players put on a NeveGear virtual reality headset and log into a new game called Sword Art Online only to discover a mad scientist has trapped them in a virtual world. The players have to fight their way through a 100 floor dungeon to escape. If they die in the game, they die in real life. Luckey published his post about the killer headset on November 6, 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 wrote.
In SAO, NerveGear kills players with a microwave beam. Luckey noted further that 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,” he added.
“I have plans for an anti-tamper mechanism that, like the NerveGear, will make it impossible to remove or destroy the headset,” he explained further. “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.”
Vice News reported that Luckey used explosive devices from a “different project,” though he did not specify which one. However, the report noted further that he founded Anduril, a defense contractor that is developing loitering munitions, anti-drone technology for U.S. Special Forces troops, and underwater drones.