VR Porn Puts You Right in the Middle of All the Action

 
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VR Porn Puts You Right in the Middle of All the Action

It's often said that pornography is the leading force in deciding which technology standards thrive and which die out in the entertainment industry. One often-repeated story goes that it was porn that resulted in VHS killing Betamax - whether truth or simply an amusing urban legend, porn is still at the forefront of exploring and exploiting new technology.

As Starcom Mediavest Group's President of Global Operations John Sheehy put it to Adweek in a frank interview, "The reason virtual reality is probably going to be good is because it's probably going to be pornography... Why not? I sat [experiencing a VR demo] swimming through an ocean today with sharks attacking me; I can only imagine what that would be for probably one of the biggest industries in Las Vegas, so why not, you know?"

One of the more stimulating demonstrations at CES 2016 happened off the main show floor - adult studio Naughty America is demonstrated VR porn in a private hotel suite. By all accounts, the experience is both thrilling and unsettling - though that's probably because those invited to try it were conscious of being surrounded by other people at the time.

Users who wear the VR headset have a first-person point of view, replacing one of the actors in the scene. For the purposes of the demo, the "participants" remained seated while other actors moved around and interacted with them. The other actors look directly into the stereo cameras as though they're looking into the viewers' eyes, and speak as if they're addressing a real person. The user can look around up to 180 degrees but remains seated. There isn't a 360-degree field of view and users can't move around through the scene to see the action from all angles - at least not yet.

In an interview with CNET, Naughty America CIO Ian Paul said his company has been working on the content since July. "We've been waiting for this moment since the dawn of technology, right? Full immersion for the adult experience, and now we're here with the Oculus and the Samsung VR and the Cardboards... We expect that at the end of 2016, ten to twenty million users will be accessing adult VR content at least once a month."

As to the making of the content, Paul told CNET "There's definitely some challenges, particularly in getting the camera angles just right for the medium, coaching the performers to take advantage of the unique nature of the medium... of course the production workflow is totally different, stitching together the files and all that's required."

The company is betting, or at least hoping, that users won't feel like going back to a flat 2D image after experiencing VR porn. It's also tracking tech very closely: "Certainly the Oculus has taken the lead in the beginning, Cardboard is doing well, the Samsung Gear VR... it's all very neck-and-neck. We're really waiting for Sony and to take a look at the PlayStation VR. There's such a parallel between gaming and the adult industry; the demographic is the same."

He's also pragmatic about the adoption costs. "Look, people are not going to buy one of these devices just for adult [content]. They're going to buy it for gaming and adult is just going to be the icing on the cake." The company is currently producing one or two new VR videos each week and will invest more in the medium as and when demand picks up.

And what comes after this? Given the environment at CES, sensors and biometric feedback seem like the logical next step. VR combined with physical stimulation and even more sensory involvement such as smell, could usher in an entirely new era of realism both in pornography and in real-world person-to-person communication. Paul indicated that Naughty America is already thinking of these things - it shouldn't be surprising at all if the porn idustry takes the lead yet again.

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