The Oculus founder has made a VR device designed to kill the user

Posted on November 10, 2022

Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus and joint designer of the Oculus Rift, has developed a VR device intended to kill the user in real life if they die within the game world.

Before Facebook (now Meta) purchased the Oculus brand, tech designer and entrepreneur Palmer Luckey made a name for himself with the Oculus Rift. The pioneer’s most recent creation, still found within the Virtual Reality space, is a headset literally capable of killing the wearer. Inspired by Sword Art Online, the deadly headset has explosive charges mounted to the forehead region that detonate upon an in-game death. Of course, the device isn’t being sold to the public, nor has it had its functionality tested with a living host.

Sword Art Online promo image, a Virtual Reality anime

The whole crazy thing was announced on Palmer Luckey’s personal blog. It’s actually a fascinating read, with Luckey clearly beguiled by the dark science fiction of Virtual Reality explored in media but not (yet) in reality. He had the following to say:

“…there are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself, and also why I am convinced that… the final triggering should really be tied to a high-intelligence agent that can readily determine if conditions for termination are actually correct.”

“At this point, it is just a piece of office art, a thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design.  It is also, as far as I know, the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user. It won’t be the last.”

What do you think of a potential death device strapped to your face?