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January 08, 2018

VR Porn Makers Face Roadblocks From Big Tech Firms

LOS ANGELES—Producers in the burgeoning virtual reality (VR) segment of the porn industry create more than half of all VR content in the current market, and VR porn is projected the become a billion-dollar business within the next decade, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times last week. But VR porn creators say they are running into a major obstacle: the giant corporations that manufacture the headsets required to watch VR video, the Times reported. Makers of VR viewing devices include some of the world’s largest technology companies, such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC and Facebook through its Oculus VR division. But the big tech firms have blocked access to apps created by VR porn companies—apps that make downloading and viewing adult content in virtual reality easy and convenient. Fans can still watch VR porn on the headsets, but that often requires awkward and complicated “workarounds.” Even so, according to experts cited by the Times, VR porn has already become a major driver of VR hardware purchases, despite the official resistance from the big tech firms. “The official line is that they don’t talk about it,” VRPorn.com boss Daniel Peterson told the paper. “But everyone knows it’s a major factor driving VR.” “It's this very strange situation where if you talk privately to people who work at major VR companies and you say, ‘Hey, what do you think about VR porn?’ And they say, ‘Oh, I love VR porn!’” said Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey who, according the Times, no longer works for the company. “But then they go to a public panel at a game development conference, and they'll get asked, ‘What do you think about VR porn?’ They say, ‘What is VR porn? I don't know anything about that.’” Porn creators have long been early adopters of new technology, as they seek new methods to deliver adult content to an audience constantly in search of new experiences. The first known erotic film, the 1896 French short Le Coucher de la Mariée (aka Bedtime for the Bride), appeared about a year after the invention of the motion picture. About six decades later, the still-underground porn film business helped drive the explosion in Super-8 film and cameras which, in the era before home video, first made movies relatively cheap and simple for anyone to create and view. Fast-forward to the late 1970s and early 1980s, and porn creators then adopted the VHS videotape format as the most cost-effective and convenient medium to put adult video content into the hands of eager consumers. Around the same time, erotic programming led to a sharp rise in cable TV subscriptions. And of course, porn has pushed the progress of internet technology, starting in the early 1990s when Penthouse gave readers what were then lightning-fast 2400-baud modems for free, to let fans view the online Penthouse content without prohibitively long download speeds. Porn has also driven innovation in video streaming, online payment systems and other groundbreaking internet technologies. With porn now on the cutting edge of VR tech, VR porn producers, whose industry took in $93 million last year and could top $1 billion by 2025, according to The Times, say they want to help hardware makers innovate their technology as well. For example, Naughty America exec Ian Paul says that his company has offered to invest in age verification technology that would allow big tech firms to grant access to VR porn apps while shielding the adult content from minors.  “I don't want to paint the picture that it's us versus the manufacturers, because it's not,” Paul said. Naughty America is one of the few adult companies exhibiting at the Consumer Electronics Show, currently taking place in Las Vegas.

 
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