VR is opening up new business opportunities for the porn industry.
American porn company BaDoinkVR was one of the early entrants in the virtual reality market. Now it’s partnering with Dutch adult technology company Kiiroo to create a series of instructional sex videos for both men and women that will combine virtual reality and “teledildonic” devices (vibrating sex toys) that are synced with the interactive experiences featuring adult film stars.
Todd Glider, CEO of BaDoinkVR, has watched as startups are developing virtual reality experiences to help people address and overcome phobias such as fear of public speaking, fear of flying, and fear of heights.
“We’re well suited to address one of those phobias specifically: erotophobia, or fear of sex,” Glider says. “Whether the result of religious upbringing or poor sex ed in our school systems, there are a lot of people with a negative view of sex. So we’ll try to help people overcome intimacy issues, fears about performance, and beyond through virtual reality.”
Glider says the plan is to film this virtual reality series with a known actress from the adult industry, although casting hasn’t started yet. The company also wants to use the latest virtual reality camera, and is currently eying Nokia’s Ozo camera and Lytro’s light field rig. Right now it depends on what technology is available for rental first. He says the goal is to get the series out in time for the March 24 launch of Facebook’s $600 Oculus Rift Consumer Edition.
“These videos will serve as some consumers’ first exposure to adult VR,” Glider says. “My hope is that it inspires more women to embrace the content. With VR, there’s an immediacy and an undeniable visceral component. That specifically can bridge the gap between what is perceived as fake and what is perceived as authentic, which could connect with more women, who often complain about the lack of passion in porn.”
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Kiiroo sells a pair of sex devices, one for men (the $250 Onyx) and one for women (the $149 Pearl) pair via Bluetooth with the virtual reality headset and syncs to what’s happening in the movie or instructional video through a special encoding.
Maurice Op de Beek, CTO of Kiiroo, says this makes for a very realistic experience as the user’s brain starts assimilating the body parts in the movie when feeling and vision are in sync.
“Couples can use Kiiroo devices and instructional VR videos from Badoink to explore new aspects of their sexuality in a fun and interactive way,” de Beek says. “This may be especially valuable for couples who have trouble directly communicating their sexual desires. They can use VR instructional videos as a fun and sexy way to introduce new erotic activities into their lives.”
Glider says the ultimate goal with virtual reality is to achieve full immersion, or telepresence, which incorporates all of the senses.
“Videos alone have sight and sound covered, and Kiiroo adds haptic feedback, which signals that we’re more than halfway there,” Glider says.
The porn industry, which Kassia Wosick, assistant professor of sociology at New Mexico State, estimated was a $97 billion global industry in 2014, has always embraced new technology. And virtual reality is no exception.
According to Piper Jaffray research analyst Travis Jakel, adult entertainment will be the number three driver of all virtual reality content behind games and movies, and the porn virtual reality business will grow into a $1 billion industry by 2020.
Jakel forecasts that 3% of virtual reality users will pay on average $35 for adult content in 2016, accounting for $13 million of the total market—compared to 5% of virtual reality users spending an average of $56.66 on games, accounting for $35 million of the market, and 15% of VR users spending an average of $8.19 on movies, accounting for $15 million of the market.
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“As we see the base of VR consumers expand to include the uninitiated, we’re getting the same signals from them that we’re getting from early adopters,” Glider says. “There is a willingness to pay for adult VR content because it’s seen as something separate from normal porn, something that is worth a premium.”
Glider believes virtual reality could give the porn industry a 5-10% increase in revenues in 2016, but he admits that it’s still too early to judge accurately.
That’s not stopping early experimentation in everything from livestreamed experiences to holographic movies, to now sex instructional videos.