This Sword Art Online-inspired VR headset can literally kill you…

The concept of locking players into a game in one way or another and making an in-game death a real death has been popular for decades. Tron immediately comes to mind for moviegoers and older people. And it has taken many forms since then. But whether you like Sword Art Online or not, it’s hard to deny that this Japanese work has had a huge influence on the scene, to the point of being the example that immediately comes to mind when you think of a video game.

SAO and the promotion of VR in anime

The web novel behind Sword Art Online (SAO) is almost two decades old, and the anime is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. What makes SAO special is probably the fact that it came at the right time. With great direction, it rides the tail end of the wave of MMO popularity, when anime is really starting to hit a wider audience. He was also one of the first to respond to the growing demand for the Isekai genre, which we are still fed ad nauseam with each new season of anime. Ironically though, there is some debate as to whether he is an Isekai, or not. The anime has four seasons and a movie since, as well as a plethora of merchandise, including video games as of this writing. It also contributed to a renewed interest in VR headsets, to the point of making Japan the second largest market for Oculus.

Going back to its history, SAO players were equipped with a neural connection headset, the NerveGear, which works very differently from today’s virtual reality headsets. The author of SAO may have hoped that the technology would be mature within 20 years, but he clearly overestimated the speed of its development. Instead of displaying a screen in front of the player’s eyes, these headsets use different types of waves to communicate directly with the brain, allowing it to truly give the impression of living the game fully, which has complete freedom and all his senses. This is the perfect fantasy for all gamers, especially those who are interested in VR. Of course, a certain amount of drama is required, and the local mad scientist, who developed this headset, quickly reveals to the players that they cannot disconnect, and that if they die in the game, the headset will release a electricity and microwave. to fry their brains. The same applies if someone tries to remove the helmet, or cut the power for a long time.

The NerveGear in SAO - Millenium
SAO’s NerveGear

More details on the killer VR headset

As ridiculously pointed out Palmer Luckey on his blog, the good news is that technology is halfway to replicating this fantastic technology, because the part that will kill you in the real world is ready. Palmer admits that he didn’t immediately hide the deadly microwave emitters in his helmets, but that, for lack of anything better, he fell to a tried and true method: 3 explosive cases attached to the front of the helmet, connected to a photosensitive receiver that detects when the player’s screen is shown on the screen, which causes the explosion of the charges, and therefore on the head of the loser. He was happy that it was so easy to put together, in terms of progress.

He is currently working to refine the system, to include a security system, to ensure that it is impossible to destroy the helmet or remove it to save the player, like the original NerveGear. He admits however that he doesn’t have the courage to try on the helmet at the moment, to make sure everything is right. However he was satisfied with the creation of the first true VR device, capable of killing its user. Where things get darker, worthy of an episode of Black Mirror, is why he fears that this will not be the last VR headset of this kind, and that reality may join fiction.


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