Virtual reality is one of the hottest topics in technology this year. It should come as no surprise because with the computing power now available to consumers, this breakthrough technology is finally viable and available to the masses. With applications for everything from video games to selling real estate, the possibilities of VR are essentially limitless. So far, we’ve seen Sony adopt the technology with the release of its PSVR, while Oculus and HTC have brought out their own headsets. My travel agent recently sold me a vacation using a VR headset to show me the resort I would be staying at and I’ve heard that all manner of hotels, venues and even architects are using the technology to sell or promote themselves. However, out of all these adopters, the biggest has yet to be mentioned.
Yes, I’m talking about virtual reality porn.
The porn industry has long been a major driving force when it comes to new technology. For example, rumour has it that when porn backed VHS video tapes way back when, it brought about the demise of the competing technology, Betamax.
Today, the porn industry has fully embraced virtual reality technology and is using it heavily in many forthcoming pornographic video releases. This makes sense of course, because a long-standing problem with watching porn is that viewers would be doing just that – watching. VR allows the viewer to be fully immersed and even interact with the porn stars in the videos. No longer does the action happen in front of the person watching on a TV or computer screen, it’s now all around and the action is centered around the viewer.
Last year, almost 92 billion porn videos were watched on Pornhub alone, that’s roughly 12 videos per person in the whole world, and that’s just one website. Those are incredible numbers and it’s no wonder that virtual reality has been fully embraced by this massive industry. While Pornhub also provides regular 2D porn (still it’s bread and butter), there are many niche porn sites that focus strictly on virtual reality porn. Vrsmash.com is one such site and co-founder Mike Hartman has seen its popularity flourish. During a recent interview, he stated, “We’re having a hard time keeping up with the demand. New producers and videos are coming quick, our viewer base is skyrocketing and I don’t expect a slowdown any time soon. Anyone who’s ever watched a VR porn can attest that it brings a whole new level of excitement to the table and it’s no wonder viewers are flocking to it.”
When asked about what innovations VR porn will offer in the future, Mr. Hartman was quick to state that increasing video quality and filming techniques will continue to up the level of realism the viewer will experience. He was also excited about the rise of teledildonics, which is the term for the technology of “remote sex”, where tactile sensation is transmitted over the Internet through electronic sex toys. Teledildonics is probably the next big step and the one that will really have the most effect on how people view and have sex. As an example, imagine you’re in a long-distance relationship. There would normally be no opportunity for sex (other than Skype or phone sex), and this can put a huge strain on even the closest relationship. This technology is changing that, as partners are now able to “feel” one another in real time over their Wi-Fi connection. At the fore front of the technology is a company called Kiiroo, which currently offers two teledildonic devices – one for her and one for him. There are also “sex suits” being designed and tested as you read this. These teledildonic sex toys can be linked to each other or to an app or game. For example, adding virtual reality creates a situation where the stimulus you see in your headset, can be felt in real life. Apps like 3DXChat are already one step ahead of the game, offering a virtual environment where users can create an avatar and engage with other users in all sorts of sexual behaviour, including intercourse.
Give it a few more years and it’s possible that new forms of relationships will evolve within or facilitated by computers. The sex work arena will see changes as well, as new forms of “prostitution” become possible. While these innovations or changes and their effects may seem scary or unpopular, it’s best to view them with a sense of curiosity and wonder at what us humans can create. After all, progress won’t stop just because some people aren’t ready.
For now, things are still relatively tame in terms of what teledildonics and virtual reality porn are capable of, but the technology is rapidly evolving and virtual sex will be a big topic in the future to come.