We have put our hands on it. Many people are not aware of the appeal of virtual reality headsets. Can you convince them with porn movies? How the sex industry tries to turn the new technology into a business – the insight.
If someone in a family is surprised when watching porn, this is usually unpleasant for everyone involved. No matter whether parents meet their child or vice versa. In a few years, the situation could become even more strange.
Until then, it could be a serious option to watch sex videos not only with headphones, but also with bulky glasses in front of your face. Thanks to the new virtual reality glasses such as Samsung’s Gear VR and the Oculus Rift, mankind is just getting a lot closer to sci-fi sex visions.
The porn industry has always welcomed every technical innovation with great enthusiasm. And now they are raving about the new possibilities offered by virtual reality (VR). The fact that 3D porn for 3D televisions never really made it into the mainstream doesn’t seem to deter anyone.
Breasts versus power outlets
In fact, VR videos convey a surprisingly intense feeling of being in the middle of something. This is partly due to the 3D effect and partly to the fact that the glasses transfer the viewer’s head movements into the film. For example, if you are particularly interested in breasts, you can concentrate your attention on them.
You can just as well look to the side during the sex scenes and check whether the plug of the lamp is still correctly plugged into the socket. That’s not real interactivity, but an unusual freedom.
Naughty America, the operator of dozens of porn portals, was one of the first major companies to announce in July that it now also has VR films on offer. “Our customers want to get as close to reality as possible – without reality getting in their way,” the company boss was quoted at the time.
We started with a camera wobble
You can also get an idea of what current productions offer without your own VR glasses – for example with the “Vice” documentary “The Digital Love Industry”, which is dedicated to sex games alongside VR films.
Pioneers in the film segment have so far been specialist companies such as VirtualRealPorn and BaDoink VR, which operate their own download platforms. VirtualRealPorn has been active in the market since January 2014. The company started with voyeur clips, including a wobbly camera and a narrow 120-degree field of view that pretty much destroyed the illusion of freedom of vision.
In the meantime, for example, there is an offshoot for gay men, the newer clips offer a 180-degree field of view. This means that you only rarely look at the black wall where the picture ends on the left and right.
This is how you can imagine VR pornos
- Many VR pornos are filmed from the first-person perspective, in other words in such a way that you usually think you are a man who has sex with one or two actresses – whereby the women take on the active part.
- In some clips the supposedly own body seems so passive that you think it’s a doll or a corpse for a short time. In other videos the strange, “own” hands move so much that the viewer is irritated.
- Some – youth-free – impressions of VR porn are provided by our photo gallery.
A bet on the future
VR productions are still above all a bet on the future. For the download of a few dozen VR videos, the companies currently charge between ten and 30 euros a month: These prices do not yet make the big money, but there are too few VR glasses in circulation. The clips, several gigabytes in size, can also be viewed on Google’s Cardboard, a pair of cardboard VR glasses for smartphones, but this experience is less convincing, especially because the motion detection works less well here.
It will be some time before the more elaborate VR glasses reach the mass market. Market researchers at Gartner, for example, predict that it will be another five to ten years before virtual reality reaches its hype maximum.
Todd Glider, Managing Director of BaDoink, says in an interview with a porn industry service that he does not believe technology will completely change the industry: “Not today or tomorrow. He sees young people who already grew up in the age of Internet porn as the target group for VR porn. The older generations are already satisfied – for them the Internet has already been “the biggest porn gift imaginable”.
But even approaching young people becomes a challenge: For example, because you usually don’t understand the appeal of virtual reality until you’ve had such glasses on your head. Many people are also sceptical when it comes to gadgets that take up both the eyes and ears.
Impressive and a little scary
Currently, it is mainly enthusiasts who spend money online on VR porn. When asked about VirtualRealPorn, they say that most customers are people with technical competence and a passion for VR, such as gamers and programmers.
The broad masses have probably encountered the idea of porn in the middle of it rather indirectly – for example in YouTube videos such as the clip “VR Porn Reactions on Oculus From First-Time Virtual Reality Viewers”, which has already collected 13 million clicks.
If you put an Oculus Rift on your own friends and show them VR pornos, you hear many similar sentences: yes, somehow it’s impressive, and something different than YouPorn and Co. But the looking is also a little scary, for example when the actress comes closer to whisper something or when she is constantly looking for eye contact. Or when you start sweating because of the tightness of the glasses.
Who answers honestly?
Would you watch such films privately? “No, yes, at some point perhaps, but probably not,” is a typical answer. Or: “The roller coaster ride with the glasses felt more real.” It remains open how honest such small talk answers are – keyword social desirability.
It is also difficult to predict how much demand for VR porn will increase once the displays become sharper, the actors more familiar, the content more intelligent and diverse, and the glasses cheaper and perhaps even lighter. Will almost everyone still agree with the “Vice” author who came to the conclusion after a self-experiment that “real sex will never replace VR glasses”? “As if you were there”.
According to VirtualRealPorn founder Mike Kovalsky, the experiences so far are only the beginning. He reports that his company is working on its own video players that can be synchronized with so-called teledildonics so that these electronic sex toys work at the right pace.
In concrete terms, this could mean: If oral sex is seen in the film, for example, a connected vibrator or masturbator could try to simulate this in the appropriate beat. “The idea is to bring experiences together and create the perfect immersion – as if you were there,” says Kovalsky. Such sex gadgets can also be seen in the “Vice” documentary.
Maybe in the future it won’t just be clumsy glasses that raise questions when parents and children meet spontaneously.
In a nutshell: Porn films are already on the market for VR glasses like the Oculus Rift and the Gear VR: The videos are mostly shot from the first-person perspective, which in combination with the transmitted head movements and the spatial effect creates a feeling of being in the middle of something. Because VR porn is a new genre, mainstream films for men have been the most popular so far. Our youth-free photo series provides optical impressions.