Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has built a prototype of a VR headset that kills you, based on the NerveGear headset in Sword Art Online. In the anime, players become trapped in the SAO game and are told that dying in the virtual world means that they will die in real life by way of a hidden microwave generator in the headset. In a blog, Luckey writes that he aims to create a VR headset that would mimic the same thing. (Are we in the darkest timeline?)
Did Luckey really build a VR headset that kills you?
Well, technically yes. Luckey says, in his blog, that while he wasn’t able to duplicate the microwave emitter from the NerveGear “without attaching the headset to gigantic pieces of equipment,” he has instead tied “three explosive charge modules” to a prototype headset. These charges are connected to a narrow-band photosensor that can detect whether a screen flashes red, which would theoretically occur when a player dies in a video game.
As such, Luckey writes that putting “game-over integration” in a game would be “very easy”:
When an appropriate game-over screen is displayed, the charges fire, instantly destroying the brain of the user.
That said, even if an anti-tamper mechanism for a headset like this, he believes that there too many scenarios where it could kill the user at the wrong time. (Is there really a right time?) As such, he hasn’t tried the headset himself. Luckily, for now, this prototype is “just a piece of office art,” though he still thinks it’s a “thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design.”