Oculus Rift creator makes headset that can kill users in real life

“If you die in the game, you die in real life”

Palmer Luckey, the creator of the original Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset has announced that he has modified a headset to be able to kill the user “in real life”.

In a blog post on his own website, Luckey said that the idea was inspired by Japanese novel series Sword Art Online, which follows two protagonists as they play through various virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). The story tells that the two characters play these games via a headset, the NerveGear, which will enable them to control the games using only their minds.

On November 6, 2022 in Sword Art Online, the creator of the NerveGear informs 10,000 players that they must tackle 100 floors of Aincrad, the steel castle setting of the series, in order to be freed but that if they die in-game or attempt to forcibly remove the headset, they will die in real life.


On November 6, 2022 Luckey posted to his own website telling of a modification he had made to a VR headset which used three “explosive charge modules” tied to a “narrow-band photosensor” which can detect when the screen flashes red at a specific frequency therefore acknowledging the game-over screen. When this screen is displayed the charges will fire “instantly destroying the brain of the user”.

Sword Art Online's NerveGear headset
Sword Art Online. Credit: A-1 Pictures

The device, in Luckey’s own words, “isn’t a perfect system” as his plans for an anti-tamper mechanism to make it impossible to remove or destroy the headset are not yet complete. “I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself,” Luckey said, “I am convinced that, like in SAO, the final triggering should really be tied to a high-intelligence agent that can readily determine if conditions for termination are actually correct.”

He closed the blog post by stating that the headset is “just a piece of office art” which serves to remind people of “unexplored avenues in game design” but acknowledged that it is the first non-fiction example of a virtual reality headset that “can actually kill the user”.

The creation of the harrowing device comes after Luckey’s company, Anduril Industries, got a $1billion (£871.8million) defence contract with the United States Department of Defence in January. The long-term contract aimed to develop Anduril’s Lattice system which includes autonomous towers that can knock enemy drones from the sky completely unmanned.

Back in 2017, it was reported by The Verge that Luckey hid $100,000 (£87,200) donations to fund former president Donald Trump’s inaugural celebrations through companies named after Chrono Trigger elements. The donations came only months after Luckey admitted that he had funded a pro-Trump group.


In other news, EA Sports has confirmed that the “ultimate” FIFA anthems of the past 25 years will be added to FIFA 23 later this week.

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