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Oculus founder says his new VR headset will kill people if they die in-game

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Oculus founder Palmer Luckey says the idea of ​​pairing real life with a virtual avatar fascinates him because it immediately raises the stakes. The ‘NerveGear’ VR headset will take many years.

Abhik Sengupta

New Delhi,UPDATED: 15 Nov. 2022 7:39 PM IST

By Abhik Sengupta: Palmer Luckey, the founder of VR company Oculus (now owned by Meta), has designed a new headset that can kill users if they die in a game. The device is inspired by Sword Art Online (SAO), a Japanese anime in which the death of players in the game means death in the real world due to a special VR headset called ‘NerveGear’. The good news for some users and parents is that Luckey’s own take on the NerveGear headset will take “many years” to create, as he’s only discovered “the half that kills players.” At this point, it’s just a piece of office art, but it’s also been described as the first non-fiction example of a VR device capable of killing users.

In his personal blog, called Palmer-Luckey, the former Oculus senior executive writes that the idea of ​​pairing real life with a virtual avatar fascinates him because it immediately raises the stakes. The blog notes: “You immediately raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players in it. Pumped-up graphics can make a game look more realistic, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and everyone else in the game.”

Palmer claims he’s halfway through making a proper NerveGear VR headset, but there’s still a lot to do. He explains that in SAO, the NerveGear contained a microwave transmitter that could be powered to lethal levels. The real-life headset would work in a similar way, and the early model included three explosives to destroy a player’s brain once the game is over.

The post adds that this isn’t the perfect system and the real NerveGear should be tamper-resistant. He says, “There’s a wide variety of glitches that can happen and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I haven’t had the balls to actually use it myself, and also why I’m convinced that, as in SAO, the final activation should actually be linked to a high-intelligence agent who can easily determine whether the terms of termination are actually correct.

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