The Internet is for (Virtual Reality) porn...?

Everyone's talking about virtual reality. Despite Oculus Rift continuously being delayed, other companies are pouring a lot of money and resources into virtual reality technology. Unfortunately, most of the content being shown are simple demos and basic games, but no specific use cases. Samsung has their Gear VR headset, but even that currently has mainly demo material and no "killer app" in the portfolio.

So what will the breakout application for virtual reality be? According to a panel with Brian Shuster and Alec Helmy at SXSW, VR porn will be the first mainstream application for the new technology.

History bears this out. Everyone knows the story about porn choosing the winner in the VHS/Betamax battle. In the mid-90s, pornography embraced the Internet, and later on the industry was the first to take advantage of advanced features of DVDs. Using history as a predictor of the future, it only makes sense that porn will be the dominant application out of the gate.

Virtual reality headsets will be combined with haptic feedback devices placed on... personal... body parts to provide stimulation that can be controlled by a partner halfway across the world. Shuster discussed some of the hardware that's currently being developed, and emphasized the merger between Fleshlight and Kiiroo. The current device works over the Internet, but soon it will be merged with virtual reality to give a more immersive experience instead of using only a webcam. This may seem like it's way off in the future, but it will supposedly be available within a year.

Many portions of the discussion went into territory that seemed, frankly, unrealistic. For example, Shuster opined that within a few years, networked sex will not only become commonplace, but will have so many advantages over real-world sex that it won't exist as it does today. He quoted an article from The Guardian about sex in Japan, where roughly 50% of women between the ages of 16-24 polled were either not interested in, or were disgusted by sexual contact.

Getting into the finances of creating content, it was stated that making a virtual avatar using motion capture shoots and body scans is relatively easy and would cost roughly $100,000, whereas doing so with real people is cost prohibitive, costing upwards of $20M. However Shuster elaborated that studies have been conducted that show the human brain sees avatars as "real" after only a few minutes and that using computer generated avatars will not be a deterrent from virtual reality porn's popularity.

Female readers will not be left out in the cold either. Although Shuster was under an NDA and not able to speak about specifics, he confirmed that Fleshlight has a device that women will enjoy in a virtual environment, but he was light on specifics.

So is porn really going to be the first killer app for virtual reality? While it's probable, I'm not sure that Shuster's other predictions, such as people preferring virtual sex to real sex, will actually come to pass. However it's easy to say that this will once again prove that the Internet is for porn.

XXX image courtesy of Shutterstock

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