Virtual Reality Porn: A Whole New Digital Frontier

The 10,000 Pound Gorilla Nobody’s Talking About

With the makers of the much hyped Oculus Rift VR (virtual reality) headset recently emphasizing their desire to make the device affordable for the common man (we’re talking about $300 USD here) and the predicted launch of a virtual reality headset from Sony next month there has been a lot of talk about virtual reality and it’s larger, more encompassing technological implications. Surprisingly, not much has been said about the enormous cultural and economic impacts such technology will bring about. Enthusiasm so far has been limited to the “wow” factor of finally being able to purchase something with the same “future-factor” as a flying car.

Silently, yet imposingly, the 100 10000 10,000 pound gorilla in the room waits and watches.  This is an industry known for its full-hearted and enthusiastic adoption of new technology to the extent that it can be said they are a real driver in the progression of technological evolution.  Those already familiar with the gorilla’s domain are already aware of the stiff competition arising over virtual reality and how it’s being incorporated into existing business models.

The ever vigilant gorilla here is the adult entertainment industry and like it or not, it will be THE industry (debatably in close competition with gaming) to push augmented reality to its technological and perhaps ethical limits and beyond.

The potential practical applications for virtual reality and the possibilities it creates are infinite. Allowing the paralyzed or critically disabled to virtually participate in physically strenuous activities half way across the world, or training pilots, police and soldiers with a virtual battlefield replicated in horrifying vivid detail are just but a few applications that already exist. The most current virtual reality technology has attracted and heavily courted the gamer crowd as there has been long existing desire for more interactive ways of really “experiencing” gaming software for years. Virtual reality however is much older than many of the pimply teenagers heralding its eminent arrival.

Image courtesy of NASA. Early VR technology

A Brief History of Virtual Reality

It’s hard to say exactly when “virtual reality” was born as it is an extremely young technology. 360 degree art rendering sin the form of panoramic murals can be dated back to the 1860’s. The only virtual part of the experience was the wide degree of the medium, and was only as realistic as the hand of the artist who created it.

Sometime in the 1920’s rudimentary vehicle simulators were introduced probably with the aid of simple film projectors and microphones. It wasn’t until 1968 that the first elementary augmented reality head-mounted display or AR-HMD was invented by Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull. The device was reportedly so heavy it had to be mounted to the ceiling of the MIT lab. The monstrous beast of a machine got the nickname “The Sword of Damocles” because of it’s intimidating awesome nature.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s when the term virtual reality was popularized by the former Atari employee and virtual reality enthusiast Jaron Lanier. Lanier ended up founding VPL Research, a company specializing in marketing VR goggles and gloves. Unfortunately it seems to have been a bit before its time and filed for bankruptcy in 1999. It can be assumed that Google began developing its own AR technology in the early to mid 2000’s, bringing to market today’s much hyped Google Glass.

 

Ancient pornography vendor

Industry Growth Potential

Even though the $90 billion dollar gaming is the most widely publicized industry associated with virtual reality,it is just one wave in a series of tidal waves VR technology create.

The adult entertainment industry on the other hand is an unmatched behemoth in its own right. Estimates range from $2.6 billion to over $13 billion annually. So combining porn and VR has very obvious and very serious growth potential. Deloitte marketing researchers have predicted 2014 to be a strong year for wearables, which include both smart glasses and virtual reality headsets. They have estimated global revenue pushing $3 billion globally, with the sale of over 4 million smart glasses worldwide. The report doesn’t break down the smart glasses category into smaller subcategories, but given public interest it can be assumed a large portion of these sales will be virtual reality headsets.

Porn Pushes Technology

Porn is a Force for Technological Progress

The adult entertainment industry has grown in technological stages throughout history, taking full advantage of the cutting edge technology of the time as it develops. From magazines to VHS to DVD to streaming video, the adult entertainment industry has always been in lockstep with new tech and thus a clearly successful “early adopter”.

Already the industry is buying up virtual real estate and setting up shop online. A quick google search for ” virtual reality porn” will return a wide variety of young companies looking to position themselves at the forefront of this his emerging sub-market. Adult entertainment companies have always been voracious first movers. Outside of the salivating venture capitalists and the domain name prospectors, what will this new niche look like?

Well, in the beginning small and agile startups will have the natural advantage, as those who have secured one of the limited supply Oculus VR developer kits already have a huge advantage in the initial development of adult VR.

The limited availability of the first version means those lucky enough to have acquired a headset have had months head start. It also explains why units are selling on eBay for almost $1000 USD. Expect frenzied demand when the new development kit to be released sometime later this year.

Once a measurable uptick in interest in the sub genre of virtual reality pornography develops, likely after consumer models of VR headsets have been released to the public for an affordable price, then presumably the huge names of the industry will sweep in and consolidate most enterprising young independents. Eventually the adult VR industry will become a combination of In-house production development modeled on the same processes of current digital film production as well as acquisition of entire smaller adult VR pioneers.

Something doesn’t seem quite right here..

How will VR Porn Effect Society?

The effects VR pornography will have on society as a whole remain to be seen, although given it’s simply a more realistic, depth full iteration of existing video technology, it can perhaps be assumed current issues with video pornography will only be amplified by VR technology, mainly that of pornography addiction.

How the market expands to accommodate this tectonic shift in adult media consumption remains to be seen. The advent and adoption of virtual reality will remake the digital media sphere into a much deeper, more interactive world, resulting in huge winners and profound societal impacts.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on VR, VR applications and how you think VR pornography will affect society in the years to come. Post up in the comments below!

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