Palmer Luckey is a pivotal figure in the VR world. There’s no getting away from that fact. The founder of Oculus and kickstarter of the modern VR revolution hasn’t had the best time in the media over the last few months. From negative political press to less-than-stellar media representation, the poor guy has perhaps not been the most ready for the world’s eye on him.
However, visionaries have to keep having those visions and so it should be no surprise that Palmer is still actively thinking about the technology that has so defined his life up to now.
Thanks to a video (that’s totally NSFW and also mainly in Japanese, 57:12 mark) Palmer shares his views about direct brain interfaces and VR.
The discussion was part of a talk on the future of adult VR at an event in Japan. Palmer commented on the fictional Augma device from the novel and anime series Sword Art Online. The Augma is a direct neural interface that can provide VR and AR via the nervous system. It’s the successor to an earlier fictional device from the same show called the Amusphere. Sword Art Online presents a compelling picture of fully-embodied VR where you’re “real” body is switched “off” as it is while we are dreaming, and then the device takes over the inputs and outputs to your brain. So in a way it’s like the brain connections from the Matrix film,but without the need for implants.
Lucky goes on say that he’s actively experimenting with nerve stimulation as a VR input and output technology. Palmer’s approach still relies on invasive implants and are limited to the peripheral nervous system for haptic feedback and motion tracking. The reason he gives for this approach is that the optic nerves simply carry too much information, so a headset is still needed to provide visuals. It will be some time, if ever, that we could directly generate information complex enough to communicate with the visual cortex of the brain directly.
His conclusion is that peripheral nerve implants for VR are a definite possibility in the future, but that HMDs remain the best way to give us the visuals.
As to his own progress, well apparently getting a doctor to do perform his mad experiments is proving a little difficult if you believe this tweet.