VR Headset That Kills Users in Real Life in Development

Photo by Uriel Soberanes via Unsplash

VR Headset That Kills Users in Real Life in Development

By Movieguide® Contributor

A virtual reality headset that kills its users in real life when their VR avatar dies may currently be in development. 

Inspired by the anime series SWORD ART ONLINE, Palmer Luckey, the founder of VR company Oculus, claimed he is designing the deadly tech. 

“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 said.

“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,” he added. 

Luckey’s headgear will use “charge modules to blow someone’s skull up” if they lose in the VR game. 

“The charges fire when an appropriate game-over screen is displayed, instantly destroying the brain of the user,” Times Now reports. 

Some think Luckey’s device is “more of a piece of performance art…than a device to be taken seriously.”

However, if this kind of technology does become available to the public, it will raise serious questions about ethics, morality and the human experience. 

Movieguide® previously reported on the dangers of VR: 

Popular online platforms like Facebook and Roblox are convinced that the metaverse is the future for virtual reality and online interaction. However, psychologists warn that these technological advancements could have harmful side effects.

After the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in court, it became undisputed that social media contributes to online bullying, especially amongst its youngest users. Psychologists note that this problem could increase with the metaverse. The metaverse is a virtual reality concept where people spend their time interacting online. The company that owns Facebook recently changed its name to Meta to highlight its dedication to the concept.

“There’s a potency about being immersed in a world that is different than observing and interacting…through a flat screen monitor,” Albert Rizzo, a psychologist who serves as the director for medical virtual reality at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, said. “Once you’re actually embodied in a space, even though you can’t be physically touched, we can be exposed to things that take on a level of realism that could be psychologically assaulting.”

Mitch Prinstein, a clinical psychologist who serves as chief science officer for the American Psychological Association, added: “This is just an exacerbation of the problems that we’ve already started to see with the effects of social media. This is creating more loneliness. This is creating far more body image concerns [and] exposure to dangerous content that’s related to suicidality.”

While many companies have put policies in place to prohibit graphic content and forms of harassment on their platforms, experts fear a lack of accountability remains.

“Virtual reality really does need a lot of safety built in from the start, because you can’t search [the metaverse] for hate or sexual abuse,” Center for Countering Digital Hate CEO Imran Ahmed said. “You can’t. It happens in an instant [and] there’s nothing you can do.”

“I think parents will be asking themselves: Do I feel safe knowing that Mark Zuckerberg is the guy in charge of deciding who influences my children, who might be able to bully them, and whether or not they’re safe in cyberspace?” he continued.

Ahmed explained that tech companies are unwilling to pay for increased safety features.

“Right now, they’re incentivized to make a profit,” he said.

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