This new VR headset will kill you if you die in an online game

The designer has equipped the headset with explosive charges.
Ameya Paleja
The VR headset that can kill you.
The VR headset that can kill you.

Palmer Luckey 

Palmer Luckey, the guy who co-founded the virtual reality (VR) headset-making company Oculus, has now made another VR headset that can kill you if you die in an online game. Luckey's company was acquired by Facebook, now Meta, and his product is now a critical component of the metaverse that Mark Zuckerberg plans to build the company around.

At the outset, it might seem that Zuckerberg did the right thing by acquiring Oculus. Otherwise, we would not really know what sort of products they would bring to the market. Since the acquisition, Luckey has turned his focus on military assignments and is also the founder of Anduril, a manufacturer of drones for defense applications.

However, in a blog post, Luckey has given us some clues as to what inspired him to make the VR headsets in the first place and what continues to inspire him even today, and it all boils down to an anime game called Sword Art Online (SOA).

The inspiration behind VR headsets

In his blog post that details the origins of his "killer headset," Palmer refers to a version of SOA called Incident, where a mad scientist traps thousands of players of a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) in a death trap, where the only way to get out is to fight and defeat the rest.

As with role-playing games, the gamer begins the game with a certain number of hit points. When they drop to zero, the VR headset, NerveGear, emits "extraordinarily powerful microwaves," killing the gamer.

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While this might sound much like a VR version of the popular Netflix series Squid Game, instead of players signing up for the event, it is the VR headset that transports them to Aincrad, the online stage of the game.

Palmer has acknowledged in his blog post that the popularity of SOA soared alongside his Oculus headsets, and Japan was soon the company's second-largest market.

How does the headset kill?

Palmer's version of the NerveGear uses explosive charges instead that are directed toward the gamer's head and will kick in when his game ends in the VR world. The charges have been linked to a narrow-band photo sensor that will pick up red flashes of a specific frequency on the display of the headset and fire, killing the user instantly.

It is likely that Palmer picked up the charges while working on his defense assignments, The Vice reported. Otherwise, it would be quite difficult to hide this construct from his employers, regulators, and contract manufacturers.

The headset in the fictional piece is also deadly if the gamer tries to tamper with it. Palmer also wants to add that feature to the headgear that he has designed. According to the blog post, Palmer is doing all this to increase the threat of consequences of playing the game, which makes them feel more real than any other graphic upgrade can offer.

The threat from the device is so real that Palmer himself hasn't mustered up the courage to try it on. Apart from the game, the headset could simply fail and go off. This is why Palmer wants to tie in a highly-intelligent function to the device that can ensure that all necessary criteria are met before the charges are fired.

In addition to this, the VR component that matches this level of equipment is also many years out, Palmer admits.

That should save a lot of people willing to try this out.

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