Oculus founder plots surveillance tech startup to help Trump build border wall
If you thought the pioneering founder of virtual reality company Oculus, Palmer Luckey, was just going to fade into the shadows with his Facebook money, think again.
While recent reports indicated that his second act might be a gaming company, it turns out that he’s also working on a security company that has an ominously familiar mission: policing immigration border walls.
Details about Luckey’s new startup were revealed on Sunday night in a report from the New York Times that cites at least three “people familiar” with the VR expert’s plans.
The primary mission of the startup, which will be funded in part with cash from Peter Thiel‘s Founders Fund, will be to develop surveillance technology that uses lidar (which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, a technology common in self-driving cars), infrared sensors, and cameras to help border officials prevent illegal crossings.
“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.” Palmer Luckey
“We are spending more than ever on defense technology, yet the pace of innovation has been slowing for decades,” Luckey said in a statement to the Times, confirming the existence of the startup. “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.”
Such a startup from most tech founders wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. But the fact that Luckey has been previously identified as a Trump supporter along with his backer, fellow Trump supporter Thiel the collection of facts immediately raises the specter of Trump’s frequently mentioned border wall with Mexico. Until now, it seemed as though the wall might have been just another campaign promise lost amid the chaos of Trump’s White House. But it’s possible that Luckey’s sensor technology could make it much easier for Trump to deploy a “virtual” border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
In the report, we also learn that Luckey owns at least two properties in New York and California that house decommissioned missile silos, and owns several military vehicles, adding him to the list of eccentric tech founder preppers who appear to be spending millions to prepare for social collapse.
And if those very obvious connecting dots aren’t enough to bolster the notion of Luckey as Trump’s border wall go-to guy, the report even claims that Luckey has already met with Trump official Steve Bannon to discuss using the technology on the wall.
Following the 2016 revelations that he’d funded a pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton internet effort, Luckey has tried to frame his politics in the vaguest of terms, but there’s nothing vague about his new startup. If Trump’s widely condemned border wall moves forward, it looks like Luckey is going to be one of the main operatives helping to make it a not-so-virtual reality.