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Oculus Rift creator builds VR headset that can actually kill you

Oculus Rift creator Palmer Lucky celebrated Sword Art Online’s incident day on November 6, modding a Meta Quest Pro to recreate the anime’s infamous VR headset

A Meta Quest Pro (right) that's been modded with explosive charges, next to a Sword Art Online weapon (left)

VR gaming wouldn’t be where it’s at now without the designer of the Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey. Luckey left Meta (then Facebook) in 2017, three years after Oculus VR’s buyout. While he works in defence technology these days, his interest in VR hasn’t waned, but his latest art project has raised many eyebrows. Luckey is claiming he’s built a VR headset that can kill the user in real life, based on Sword Art Online’s lethal NerveGear,

Sword Art Online fans will know the importance of Luckey’s timing last weekend. November 6, 2022, is when the fictional VRMMORPG went public, trapping players within the game. Claiming he’s modified a Meta Quest Pro VR headset, Luckey confirms on Twitter that “I made the OQPNVG, the first virtual reality device capable of killing the user.” Needless to say, Luckey’s latest work won’t be making the cut for the best VR headset anytime soon.

Calling this “a piece of office art,” the former Oculus Rift designer shared further details on his blog; Luckey states that he attached three explosive charges which tie into a narrow-band photosensor. If the headset flashes red “at a specific frequency” in a game over screen, these live charges explode.

Any attempts at externally removing the NerveGear in SAO kills the user. Similarly, Luckey’s planning to create an anti-temper mechanism, stating this “will make it impossible to remove or destroy the headset.”

It’s a surprisingly morbid project, one which Luckey tells Road To VR is “no different than the extreme consequences that underlie certain extreme sports.”It’s unsurprising then that he’s not tried the OQPNVG yet, confirming: “There are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time,” he admits before continuing. “This is why I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself.”

We’ve seen plenty of Sword Art Online video game adaptations across the year, so it’s a little surprising that no one’s attempted an official SAO VR game yet. Thankfully, for those who don’t own an explosive headset, there’s always Zenith: The Last City if you’re looking for a real VR MMORPG.