When you hear talk of a border wall, you typically picture an actual, physical construction. The Oculus co-founder and his startup Anduril Industries have been working on a virtual wall -- one complete with cameras, sensors and VR -- with the aim of scoring a US defense contract and providing border security at a fraction of the cost of a physical wall. Luckey discussed plans for this technology last year, but now it's being tested, both officially and unofficially, and it's catching the eye of US officials. Wired reports that Anduril has constructed a prototype of its Lattice system on a ranch in Texas and is also conducting a government-funded test of its technology outside of San Diego. "They said they could provide broader border security for a lower cost," Melissa Ho, managing director of Silicon Valley's Department of Homeland Security office, told Wired.
The whistle of a stiff and constant wind cuts through a silence that gives no hint of the hostilities, both physical and political, that animate these borderlands. Palmer Luckey--yes, that Palmer Luckey, the 25-year-old entrepreneur who founded the virtual reality company Oculus, sold it to Facebook, and then left Facebook in a haze of political controversy--hands me a Samsung Gear VR headset. Slipping it over my eyes, I am instantly immersed in a digital world that simulates the exact view I had just been enjoying in real life. In the virtual valley below is a glowing green square with text that reads PERSON 98%. Luckey directs me to tilt my head downward, toward the box, and suddenly an image pops up over the VR rendering.
Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus VR and creator of the Rift headset, is no longer with the company. Following the news that he'd donated $10,000 to a group spreading pro-Trump memes, the 24-year old had increasingly shied away from the public eye. That even went as far as skipping last October's Oculus Connect event so as not to be a "distraction" to the news coming out of the conference. "Palmer will be dearly missed. Palmer's legacy extends far beyond Oculus.
When you find out the enigmatic 24-year-old who built one of the first commercially viable virtual reality headsets also funds a pro-Trump political action group aimed at spreading anti-Hillary Clinton memes, you may feel like your worldview has shifted a bit. At least that was the response of scores of virtual reality fans, some of whom had followed Oculus founder Palmer Luckey since he posted the Oculus Rift development kit on Kickstarter in 2012. Luckey is a key figure in the growth of virtual reality. Before the headset maker was purchased by Facebook in 2014 for 2 billion, he was outspoken and heavily involved on VR forums, the Oculus subreddit and across social media -- seemingly rarely with much of a filter. As the Facebook acquisition finalized and the Rift neared final commercial release, that did change some, but Luckey was always a force online.
Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has always railed against the idea of locking VR games to a single platform. Now, several months after leaving Facebook following controversy about his political donations to a pro-Trump group, Luckey is stepping back into the VR world in a surprising way. Waypoint reports that he's contributing $2,000 a month to the Patreon campaign for Revive, a tool that lets HTC Vive owners play games that are only available on the Oculus Rift. "As some of you suspected the sudden extreme jump in the pledge amount is indeed by Palmer Luckey," Revive developer Jules Blok said in the campaign's blog. "I'd like to thank him for his pledge and everything he has done for the VR community as a whole."