Virtual reality can be a mindblowing experience, but Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is intending to take that description a little too far with his next headset. Luckey has created a new VR headset that can be used to play games, but it comes with an unfortunate side-effect: die in the game, and you’ll die in real life when the hardware self-destructs and takes a healthy chunk of your head with it.
Using three explosive charge modules mounted above the screen, the headset will detonate these devices if it registers your defeat in a game. You might want to avoid playing Superhot VR on this thing.
“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 wrote in a blog post about 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.”
Technically, you can only lose once while wearing this.
This headset is naturally not being mass-produced or sold, and this VR gear was made in reference to the popular anime Sword Art Online. In that series, thousands of players become trapped inside of a virtual world where death in that MMORPG would result in their NerveGear headsets bombarding their brains with lethal amounts of microwave radiation. The only way out was to conquer all 100 floors of a dungeon and reach the top before it was too late.
According to Luckey, Sword Art Online led to massive otaku enthusiasm for Oculus VR, especially in Japan, where it became the second-largest market of that gear. “The good news is that we are halfway to making a true NerveGear,” Luckey explained. The bad news is that so far, I have only figured out the half that kills you. The perfect-VR half of the equation is still many years out. I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself, and also why 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.”
Luckey sold Oculus to FaceBook back in 2014 for $2 billion, with the technology being rebranded as part of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta initiative. Sony is also diving back into the world of virtual reality, and while its new PSVR 2 headsets won’t murder you when they launch next year, the $550 price tag might kill your bank balance.
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