Palmer Luckey set in motion a market obsession with virtual reality and related technologies (augmented reality and mixed reality). So what’s next for the VR pioneer? According to The New York Times, Luckey is spearheading a new startup that is working on surveillance technology that could be deployed on borders between countries and at military bases.
Luckey has already met with White House officials to talk about his startup and the potential deployment of what would essentially be a virtual wall. It is also said that an investment fund rung by Peter Thiel, a technology adviser to President Donald Trump, is planning to support his efforts.
“We are spending more than ever on defense technology, yet the pace of innovation has been slowing for decades,” Luckey told NYT in an emailed statement. “We need a new kind of defense company, one that will save taxpayer dollars while creating superior technology to keep our troops and citizens safer.”
Luckey’s startup plans to use a technology found in self-driving cars called LIDAR (light detection and ranging), along with infrared sensors and cameras to keep an eye on borders for illegal crossings. People familiar with the plan say Luckey’s system can be mounted on telephone poles, and that it would be cheaper than the wall Trump wants to build on the Mexican border.
Whether or not this comes to fruition remains to be seen, though it is not surprising to see Luckey’s career navigate into politics. He found himself in hot water after it came out that he donated thousands of dollars to an organization that targeted Hillary Clinton with anti-Clinton memes during the US presidential campaign.
Luckey ended up leaving Oculus earlier this year. Publicly, his departure was not related to his political views, though NYT says it heard from someone who knows Luckey that he had been pushed out and was rarely seen in the Oculus offices after news broke of his political donation.