DARPA using Oculus Rift to open a new front in cyberwarfare

small__8569854011A report in Wired says the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is attempting to ‘weaponize’ Oculus Rift, the futuristic virtual reality headgear that Facebook recently acquired for an astonishing $2 billion.

DARPA is apparently trying to weaponize Oculus Rift for cyberwarfare purposes, but does that mean US Navy Seals are about to unleash a ‘virtual’ attack on China’s PLA Unit 61398? Sadly no, not anytime soon, but it’s still an interesting development for a piece of tech that was originally designed for games.

All DARPA is really doing is what it always does. It’s just researching news applications for the technology – which happens to be a really cool new display that could transform the way people view user interface – to see if it can benefit the military. Saying that, the Navy is said to be already using Oculus Rift for training purposes.

Wired reports that Oculus Rift was on display at the Pentagon during DARPA’s Demo Day. It explains that DARPA has modified Oculus Rift as part of its “Plan X”, which is a software platform that’s designed to unify the military’s cyberwarfare capabilities. The project is far from complete though – in fact, the project’s manager Frank Pound told Wired that Plan X is just a proof-of-concept, and doesn’t mean the Pentagon is planning to start issuing Oculus Rifts to new conscripts anytime soon.

However, from Wired’s description of the demo it really does sound like DARPA is trying to morph real-life cyberwarfare into a video game. The wearer is presented with several spheres, with each one representing a different mission. Choose one and it pulls up a series of actions that need to be performed, either to carry out offensive cyberattacks, or defensive actions to foil enemy hackers. It looks futuristic enough anyway, even if the graphics ain’t all that hot.

We’re not quite at the stage of having specialist virtual commandos carrying out secret missions with Oculus Rift to save the nation from cyberdestruction just yet. But is DARPA really trying to weaponize it? It certainly seems to be ‘toying’ with the idea…

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