Virtual reality gets naughty – The New York Times
In early 2014, 31-year-old Ela Darling, a pornographic actress, recorded her first virtual reality sex scene. She was in a college dorm at the University of Maryland wearing an R2-D2 swimsuit and tall athletic socks. She sat on a twin bed, next to a wooden desk, and spoke to the camera as if they were a real person. There was no script or other actors.
“It was a solo masturbation scene,” she said. “I was shy and affectionate, then a little dirty. I felt sexy as hell.
Ms. Darling had been filming pornography since she was 22 and took her job seriously. It was her responsibility to convince the audience to connect with her physically and emotionally. She’s tried everything including playing bondage fetishes, performing erotic electrostimulation (“electrosex”) on another woman, and dressing like a real estate agent. Yet no matter what she did to seduce and engage, the results had always been voyeuristic, as there was always a screen that separated her from her fans.
This time, however, it was different. Virtual reality uses many camera lenses to record the same scene from hundreds of angles. When the takes are put together, the viewer has a 180 or 240 degree view of the room and the feeling of being there, participating. As soon as Ms. Darling saw the scene she recorded, she knew virtual reality was going to drastically change her job and the adult entertainment industry.
“You can pretend you’re in the bedroom with me, and he’s someone you have a crush on,” she said. “You are in the experience.”
While VR porn may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, it already has a formidable, albeit underground, presence. According to the website Pornhub, views of VR pornography have increased by 275% since its debut in the summer of 2016. Today, the site averages around 500,000 views (on Christmas Day in 2016, that number is increased to 900,000.)
By 2025, porn will be the third largest virtual reality sector, according to estimates prepared by Piper Jaffray, an investment and management company. Only video games and NFL-related content will be bigger, he predicted, and the market will be worth $ 1 billion.
“We’re getting more and more of it every day,” said Mark Kernes, editor at AVN Media Network, which covers the industry. “We are at the forefront of technology in this area. Sex sells, and where there is money to be made, there will be entrepreneurs who will want to adopt it and make money from it, ”some offering it for free to increase clicks.
Pornography is what precipitated the first printing press and spurred developments in the internet, online payment systems, and other technologies. Now is the time for virtual reality, Kernes said: “I’m pretty sure there is more porn VR than regular VR.”
Headsets are just the start
Ms. Darling first experimented with old VR on a regular basis at E3, a conference for the video game industry. Excited by the possibilities of porn, she found a student on Reddit who knew the tech but didn’t have a star. Soon after, Ms. Darling began streaming weekly virtual reality segments live from her bedroom in Los Angeles.
She was one of the first female VR webcam women, according to Mr. Kernes. She then set up a company named VRTube.xxx to make technology, now licensed to Cam4.com, which employs over 40 artists.
While the porn industry as a whole is difficult to regulate, given the potential for abuse, disease, and exploitation, the virtual type carries additional moral and perhaps legal issues. For example, can you use someone’s likeness to have sex with them in virtual reality?
“Virtual reality is like the wild Wild West,” said Bryony Cole, host of “The future of sex», A podcast that explores technology and sexuality.
At this year’s AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, a convention and trade show held every January in Las Vegas, the latest advances in VR porn were on display.
CamSoda, a website specializing in live sex videos, featured an exhibit featuring pornstars dressed in plunging swimsuits and gesturing for visitors to enter the booth. they exhibited OhRama, a small cartridge that attaches to virtual reality headsets and releases a scent during the action. “Believe it or not, the perfumes were created by the girls,” said Mr. Kernes, who was there. “It’s soft and musty. They know what they like.
There are also companies that add flavor and flair to the experience.
Another great player is CamasutraVR, a start-up using 142 cameras that all look at a person or part of the body. “They create images out of this, which they hope will be indistinguishable from a real person,” Mr. Kernes said. “I’m sure these people would have liked to use this virtual reality system at home.”
Other virtual reality companies were showing their partnerships with sex toy companies to create vibrators or penis pumps linked to VR equipment. “As the action intensifies, the vibrations of the vibrator also increase,” he said.
One of the most publicized inventions has been the sex robot. The first, Harmony, was introduced in May by a company named Realbotix. In alluring videos posted to YouTube, Harmony shows off her long legs, firm breasts, full lips, lifelike hand gestures, even her intellect.
“What do you think about sex? An unknown presenter asks him in a video.
“Sex is one of the most fascinating things in the world,” she answers huskily. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.” Harmony can connect to virtual reality so that the user can interact with it in this space; she can perform whatever acts the viewer is watching.
“It’s a bit of a video game combined with science fiction,” said Matt McMullen, CEO and Creative Director of Realbotix. The company has been manufacturing artificial intelligence dolls for 20 years, but not virtual reality. “Based on our experiences with thousands of clients,” said McMullen, “people use them for sex, but there is something more. We focus on camaraderie.
Virtual reality has been dubbed the empathy machine because it allows people to really feel connected to the action. “It’s neurological,” said Holly richmond, a somatic psychologist based in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. “You don’t just watch and think about it. You feel it, and it’s not just your genitals. There is literally a mind-body connection.
When Ms. Darling is giving live X rated performances, users can leave comments and chat with each other on the side of the screen. “People who are in virtual reality are telling other people who are watching me in 2D to stop being fools and bring it down,” she said. “They feel like they know me and are in the room with me.”
Many sex therapists and educators are interested in new technology, just as a dentist might be with the latest plaque detection gadgets. Ms. Richmond worked with BaDoinkVR, a virtual reality company in Rochester, NY, to create Virtual sexology, a series of free videos that help men and women overcome common sexual problems.
A recent video, updated in June, takes the women into the bedroom where they see how a busty blonde woman gets horny before sex. She sits in front of her partner massaging his arms, legs, breasts. As her breathing heats up, a voiceover says that some women need to be physically touched before they feel any desire for sex. The first video, aimed at men, was the most downloaded video on BaDoinkVR.com in 2016 – an impressive feat considering it competed with non-educational pornography.
Ms Cole, the podcast host, is very excited about how virtual reality can be used in sex education.
“What if we asked young people to watch videos where they practice consent or practice identifying risky behaviors? ” she said. “Or they can be in a room with someone who said, ‘I contacted herpes and this is my experience. It’s much more informative than a slide on gonorrhea. “
Barbara Rothbaum, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory Veterans Program, studies how virtual reality can help treat people with post-stress. traumatic caused by military sexual trauma.
The program constructs scenes that take victims to barracks, tents, private accommodation, latrines, offices or distant buildings and vehicles, where trauma may have taken place. The idea is that returning to these places virtually will help victims confront their memories so that they can move forward with more inner peace.
But for VR to work, the scenes have to be so realistic that users get lost in them and mistake them for reality. They should feel like they are participants, not just observers. “We can create 3D bodies in virtual reality and do whatever we want with them,” Ms. Cole said. As the technology becomes good enough for this to happen, problems are sure to arise.
Mr McMullen said one problem his business is having is that customers order dolls that look exactly like people they know in real life, possibly an ex-girlfriend they’ve never recovered from. or someone they fantasize about. Her business needs the model’s written consent for her image to be used.
Ms Cole said VR companies are going to have to tackle this same problem as they get better at customizing avatars to look exactly what their customers want. “What are the lines between reality and fantasy and what can we do in this space? ” she said. “What does virtual reality consent mean? Can you do something to your girlfriend in virtual reality that you wouldn’t do in real life? If you are using someone’s likeness in VR, do you need their permission? And what about revenge porn? It will be even harder in virtual reality.
She worries about the assimilation of technology into culture as easily as dating apps, keeping people away from real dating.
True, the partners will also have to negotiate whether virtual reality sex constitutes cheating. It is, after all, much more realistic than traditional pornography.
But Mr McMullen said a lot of people accuse his sex robot of doing this, but he believes he helps alleviate a bad situation, not provoke it. “There are people who are already alone and people who live their lives alone. They work all day and go home to an empty house, ”he said. “This just offers an alternative for these types of people. They have no one else.