Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, claims to have designed VR glasses that can kill users. In what seems an elaborate, albeit cruel joke, Luckey claims to design VR glasses that can actually kill a player who loses or gets killed in during a video game.
In a post on his blog, Luckey, who left Oculus after being bought by Facebook a few years ago, said he was inspired by the Japanese series of novels after which the anime of the same name – Sword Art Online – was later made. In it, players are trapped in an online MMORPG. Death in the game implies death in the real world due to the deadly “NerveGear” VR glasses they wear.
If players in Sword Art Online who use NerveGear fail to survive in the game, their brains are fried using an emitter that emits very powerful microwaves. When it comes to Luckey’s VR glasses, things get a bit bloodier.
Namely, since the technology that could fry someone’s brain using microwaves is expensive, complicated and cumbersome, Lucey’s VR glasses will achieve this with three explosive charges attached to them. The explosives are programmed to explode if your character is killed in the game. They are placed directly on the front of the head. After a player dies, his head, apparently, explodes.
“The idea of connecting real life with your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – by doing so you take risk to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally think about it by interacting with the virtual world and the players in it,” Luckey said.
Furthermore, Luckey says they are halfway to designing the real NerveGear for now: “The good news is we’re halfway to creating the real NerveGear. The bad news is that so far I’ve only discovered that half of the story that’s killing you. The second part of the equation, the perfect VR glasses, we won’t see for sure for a few more years.
Furthermore, to ensure the safety of users, Luckey plans to create a mechanism against the unauthorized removal or destruction of VR glasses. However, he says the whole system is unsafe for now and it is quite dangerous to try it on yourself because there is a huge probability of failures that could happen and kill the user at the wrong time.
“This, of course, is not a perfect system. I have plans for an anti-unauthorized opening mechanism that, like NerveGear, will make it impossible to remove or destroy headphones. Despite this, there are a large number of malfunctions that could happen and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I have not gathered the balls to use it personally, and why I am convinced that, as in the SAO, the final firing of explosives should indeed be tied to a high intelligence agent who can easily determine whether the termination conditions have been achieved.”
Although it all seems like one big joke, which this probably is, it’s hard not to think about what it would actually be like if these VR glasses were actually produced.
At the moment, it’s just a piece of art, a reminder that makes you think about unexplored paths in video game design. However, it is also, as far as I know, the first actual example of a VR device that can actually kill a user. It won’t be the last.”
It will be years before Luckey’s idea sees the light of day, if it even happens. Although the whole idea is quite controversial, it is intriguing. But one thing is for sure – we wouldn’t recommend these VR glasses to anyone. (If you’re interested in which glasses we would definitely recommend, you can take a look at our valve index article – one arguably of the strongest VR glasses currently available on the market)