In geek culture, one of the things that has always captured my imagination has been Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Holodeck. For those of you not familiar, don’t worry it’s exactly what it says it is. It is a room on the ship where you announce yourself and what you would like the room to be. And the room does all the other work. Everything is intensive, immense, and suddenly, no matter what you use it for, it’s very easy to forget you’re just a red shirt.
Now of course, it’s always captured my attention for all the wrong reasons. The possibilities are immense when the room can contort to your every desire, but the implications of what it could really do to society are already being seen with just the internet. Imagine what we would turn into if a little headset took us literally into another world, a world where you could be just about anything you ever wanted. The Holodeck being our goal, let’s see where we are with virtual reality today.
Tools of the Trade
Currently on the market is the Oculus Rift, the dream idea. It’s a surrounding headset with a video screen for each eye, allowing in no light and no other sound other than the video, using sound eliminating headphones. Videos and programs can be uploaded into playable files not unlike very basic apps or PS Vita®. Bought two years ago by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for 2 Billion US dollars, it is currently being sold to app developers and movie directors. It will go up for full consumer use in 2016.
It’s more accessible twin is based off the idea of cutting a hole in a cardboard box and making your own movie theater with your tablet. The Dive and Stooksy are visors with separate lenses, instead of tiny screens, that use your phone as a video screen. For 70€ instead of the Rift’s 310€ price tag (still cheaper than established tech like the IPhone and Xbox) you can essentially recreate the experience using cardboard and your smartphone.
The same apps are available for these visors and the same sets of videos. Though some developers have tried to break right into the weird and uncanny, many have stayed classic. VirtualRealityPorn.com is currently the only subscriber site for VR beginnings, but it’s taking advantage of being the only real player in the game.
In 2014, VirtualRealityPorn.com had around 25 videos, each around 9 minutes long with no real variation. Now, though the videos still primarily look like you hired an escort in a hotel room, they are full subscription length videos and the website is only moving full steam ahead. Like the idea behind some of the initial (horribad) attempts at filming porn with Google Glass, all of it is POV porn. But they’re already starting to offer variations on traditional POV porn like threesomes and female POV. And it’s a pretty awesome indication of the future.
What’s actually even cooler is that recently, VirtualRealPorn, working with Lovense, released two new toys that sync with the videos. So now, not only do you have female POV options but you also have “Max” and “Nora” which sync up to the actors movements and bodily contact. And it works with all the videos they already have, so your subscriber selection isn’t lessened at all. That’s right everyone, you heard me. Interactive dildos. The future has spoken, people.
When this started, there was nothing for women. Many of the initial looks a year or two ago bashed the product for being so fully into the Uncanny Valley and having no real options. But I think by the time the Oculus is ready for full release this time next year, they’ll even have games and other experiences besides porn and some views of the English countryside. Not that those are bad things, they just need to raise the bar if they want me to buy something that costs the same as an Xbox.
A Viewfinder for the Future
I think Virtual Reality may be the door we need to break out of “boy” and “girl” product types. There are many different sexualities and preferences and I think the industry could only benefit from moving its intended demographic. VirtualRealPorn is moving in this direction and it needs to stay in motion.
Now, I haven’t personally gotten to try out any of this tech. I think it would be an incredible experience, but short of buying it there’s no way to really try anything out. The good people at Complex allowed a wide variety of old people, millenials, and rap stars to try out one of the sample videos and I think the reactions are exactly what you’d expect: mild revulsion, excitement, confusion, embarrassment, and anticipation.
Those people who would be into it are totally into it and trying to hide it because they’re on camera and those who aren’t into porn are startled and disturbed by how close they are suddenly to a set of boobs. The videos you can watch for yourself using the links above, but honestly I’m excited for the technology just by watching everyone’s reaction. And these people don’t even know about the optional equipment. I think, in these video reviews, my favorite reaction is from one of the millennial girls. She’s totally uninterested in the beginning blow job and only makes observational comments. And then, once you switch to female POV she’s distinctly more interested in the technology and what it can do for her.
A Stroll into the Valley
Viewing VR porn seems to be being offered as an experience, something you take the time to sit and do. The age of technology has turned porn viewing into something completely different and I’m not really sure what’ll happen when those two collide. I’m willing to change my 10 videos flipped through in 20 minutes attitude for a completely new experience, but I think it’s also a worthy concern that people may try to tune this new technology to their already existing, fast paced habits.
On the other-end of that spectrum is the ever present worry that we’ll all turn into VR junkies. We’ll cease actually living and just stare off into virtual space or the Matrix will take over or something else awful will happen. To that I say, so be it. Humans make their own choices and if that future happens, we’ve obviously chosen it. Progress shouldn’t stop for fear of something that will only happen with a lack of self-control and/or alien tech. There are worse ends for humanity to face, I think.
To be honest, it’s not really a question of if we’ll take the path to the Uncanny Valley, bypassing all those cryptic warnings written on the walls. The question is which path and where will it lead us? 3D porn as it stands seems like it would be the easiest thing to port into virtual reality, especially with 3DX Chat and other resources like it. But when and how does it become more realistic? As is, the body proportions are disoriented in the videos we do have and those are of real people. But the doors to the future and its valley of the unknown are open and those behind those doors seem to understand that girls want the same nerf guns as boys do, not ones that are pink, weaker, and easy to spot.
As people, we’re only really ever interested in what’s going to serve us best. The millennial girls in the video are a perfect example. By being inclusive, this technology has the potential to do anything. Sure, we don’t have levitating skateboards, but we have air compression cars and porn star interactive dildos. And I think that’s close enough for now.