Sex In Virtual Reality Is Getting Even More Immersive in 2017

by Alice Bonasio • January 21st, 2017

This year’s AVN Show – the world’s largest Adult Entertainment expo which took place in Las Vegas this week– focused a lot on VR, even adding two new dedicated categories (Best Virtual Reality Sex Scene and Best Virtual Reality Innovation/Site) to its 2017 industry awards. AVN’s CEO Tony Rios said in a recent interview that the response of the industry to VR has been phenomenal and that although the sector is still early in development, it is definitely here to stay. What remains to be seen, however, is how exactly monetization occurs going forward.

When I met Ian Paul – Chief Information Officer of Naughty America – in April last year, they had just launched Randy’s Roadstop, their first Virtual Reality Adult entertainment series. At that time he said VR hype was justified, as it was growing faster than any format they had ever tracked, but has that trend continued?

naughty-america

Chief Information Officer Ian Paul from Naughty America. Photo by Tom Atkinson.

Yes, says Paul, who claims they’ve seen a steady stream of new customers flocking to VR experiences throughout 2016.

“New revenue attributable to VR is up 350% year over year, and this year we now plan to offer integrated support for smart services toys from companies such as Kiiroo that offer haptic feedback in sync to the video.”

Incorporating teledildonics into VR is something that several other companies are also launching in 2017. CAM4VR Co-founder Ela Darling says her company – which offers live streaming VR sex cameras – is planning to add integration with Kiiroo as well as voice-to-voice capabilities that allow users to chat directly with performers, making the experience much more up-close and personal.

“I’m excited about the implications because it brings us one step closer (essentially the closest) to feeling the person on the other end without actually being in the same physical space – a heightened level of intimacy,” she explains, adding that this physical connection has powerful psychological implications to how users experience adult content in VR.

“This connection to the person on the other end – knowing you are controlling or someone is controlling your device and what you are feeling- is a powerful psychological experience that users will start to embrace as part of the expected VR interaction,” she believes.

These interactions include not only haptic feedback, but have started to incorporate other – more unexpected – senses: Webcam platform CamSoda has experimented with various new technologies including 3D Holograms recently, but it turned some heads with their launch of a feature called OhRoma, which incorporates odors through a sensory mask. According to CamSoda President Daron Lundeen, it takes the virtual reality experience to the next level by delivering smells such as “aphrodisiacs,” “body odor,” “panties,” or “private parts” via cartridges mounted inside a mask.

And while it’s probably safe to say that this type of experience might not appeal to everybody, John McCoy, CEO of Intimuse says that teledildonics such as the products his company are currently developing already impact profits for adult sites: “Vibra-tactile toys (basically vibrators that move via an app rather than a closed feedback loop) are making a bunch of tokens change hands on the cam sites now, and the ladies like them as performers because they are easy – there is no special hardware needed on the customers’ side to trigger a basic experience. However, it’s easy to see how people will become bored with the current landscape of experiences and thirst for something more realistic, so the market is catching up to us, and I see the two spaces converging,” he predicts.

alice-x

Fabian Grey, CEO of virtual reality live cam site AliceX believes that teledildonics is looking at a longer development roadmap than VR, however: “I think it will take a couple of years, until we see a wider distribution of toys,” he says. WankzVR Managing Director Bradley Phillips agrees, warning against expectations of seeing the various innovations needed in the adult experience arena to all come at the same time:

“Each piece of the ultimate solo sexual experience that consumers dream about, is a major innovation in itself and shouldn’t be tied to the technological timeline of the other parts of the puzzle. VR’s most important goals for 2017 should not include “the ultimate simulated sexual experience” instead they need to be centered around driving the core technology forward which means better image quality, faster frame rates, better scaling, and improved depth of field.”

That also tallies with McCoy’s observations of the industry: “Right now, most US operators are focused on optimizing the customer experience with nearly flawless streaming and stable features,” he explains, adding that we should see something of a tipping point in about 18 months, where there are enough eyeballs in headsets and compelling content to generate measurable numbers and success.

Phillips stresses that the growth experienced so far has been remarkable, saying that 2016 brought an absolute explosion of adult VR content being produced: “At the beginning of last year, VR was still seen as a venture that some risk takers were investing in with the hopes that in a few years the marketplace would grow. By the end of the year, it was one of the most relevant types of content being produced for the industry, with successful VR brands already being some of the more recognizable, and profitable products in the pay site industry,” he says.

“The adult industry is undergoing a seismic shift as we transition away from the traditional towards a more immersive experience that is delivering a heightened level of intimacy unlike anything before,” said Claude Artonne, CEO of connected VR platform Terpon, who believes viewers will quickly get more used to being in the action themselves, experiencing everything first-hand. “This heightened experience will only continue to evolve and mimic real life interactions as more and more companies penetrate the space and introduce cutting-edge technology that defies boundaries.”

Artonne says this growth, which has seen significant increase in traffic numbers was further boosted by the flood of low-end Chinese headsets entering the market, with many more people using that type of device to experience VR for the first time: “As the technology continues to evolve, so too will the headsets as they improve in compatibility, aesthetics and overall functionality, which will only continue to drive adoption across the industry.”

He says that for that to happen at scale, however, a few crucial barriers must still be overcome, most importantly the functionality of mobile headsets, which impacts on their ability to deliver more immersive content.

That content, however, is already showing some promise, and AliceX CEO Grey believes the biggest trend in Adult VR this year will be segmentation, with productions increasingly catering for various niches.

WankzVR, for example, recently launched a host of experiences targeted specifically at women which – unusually for the industry – featured a female point of view, and Phillips believes that VR will help drive up the quality of Adult entertainment across the board.

“The biggest trend I see over the next year with respect to adult content shot in VR, is the return of the quality porno movie,” he says. “Content that actually has a story line, a script, a production crew and a cast. Not just some guy with a camera shooting a couple banging on a couch.”

So while fully immersive virtual sex might not be here just yet, it looks like we got a whole lot closer in 2016, and with the amount of money and interest at play, we’re likely to see a lot more interesting – and some downright wacky – stuff continuing to pop up 2017.

Tagged with: , , ,

  • user

    of course they are the beneficiary of empty and lonely vr worlds 🙂

  • Michael

    I’m happy. This is what will drive immersion VR costs down. ;D

    • herp derperson

      Well porn drives media tech, plain and simple. It’s why VHS won out over betamax, and why blu ray won over HD dvd.

  • Well, porn has been a drive for internet expansion, so it can help VR, too.

    About the growing rate, numbers make me laugh: 400%… of what? Since very few people had an headset in 2015, this number has no sense.

    About teledildonics I’m quite skeptical… interesting, but I don’t think that everyone will own at home a Lovesense or similar device. You have to feel really alone to buy such kind of devices.

    About quality… yes. VR for porn is finally a technology that porn industries can charge people for (as it was for HD videos)… but in the end it will become a commodity and we’ll come back again to low budget scenes…

    • “You have to feel really alone to buy such kind of devices”

      Hogwash. Plenty of couples out there who like to add toys to the mix, my Wife and I included.

      • Man, that’s the difference: you use it with your wife and that’s awesome.
        But if your sex life becomes entirely you wearing a headset and a masturbating tube, that’s sad.

        • Veldask Krofkomanov

          Sad, for *you*. You don’t know what it is for other people. Could be entertaining and fun.

    • user

      idk. it was a different story with the internet. because the internet enabled very private access to porn. thats why porn was a driver for internet adoption. vr only adds a quality most people dont need. people dont buy 4k tvs for porn and they dont buy vr headsets for that.

      • I agree that Internet is a different story… and about the hype. But if you see VR porn, you understand that is something that people may want. Not something they would pay $800 for, but $50 absolutely yes. Porn is all based on the illusion of you having sex with that girl/boy and VR enhances a lot that illusion, so I think that VR and porn will have a long way together

        • user

          maybe. i havent tried it. i guess porn has the typical vr problem… you cant know how much you want it until you try it for yourself. and its probably nothing people try at a friends house for the first time.

  • purdy44

    If you own a Vive headset, how do you access VR videos? I’m not just talking about porn sites, but YouTube as well. I’ve only been playing games on my Vive, but I’m sure there are videos and websites that support the format.

    Also, I’m going to guess that I won’t be able to masturbate while watching VR porn. Psychological I’m not sure I’ll be able to get it up knowing I’m sitting around with an HMD on my face and my own personal joystick in my hand.

    • Ryan

      I use Virtual Desktop to view videos in the Vive.

      • jhambi

        +1 to this. I’ve tried a couple of solutions like Big Screen beta etc, but virtual desktop is currently the best IMO and my go-to if you have a Vive or Rift. @disqus_0K1zuoV5fS:disqus I found the youtube VR/360 video stuff to be pretty underwhelming. The content mentioned in this article is certainly leaps and bounds better from an image quality, scale, etc stand point.

  • Falco Ijzerhart

    Wow this article just blows me away!
    Such an indepth piece on my favorite subject!

    I will share this!