VR and Porn: The Relationships Is Only Beginning

the market is still immature and the crowd that is ready to invest time, effort and money to get to know this technology better is relatively small, and this results in limited software and content optionsNick Fast is the chief technology officer for adult tube site xHamster and the force behind the company’s latest project, VRHub.com. An early adopter of virtual reality technologies, he is determined to drag his company and its fans into the future singlehandedly, if necessary.

Fast is not at all shy about sharing his impressions about the current state of VR and his predictions for the future.

Does VR have any chance of growing beyond hardcore geek crowd? The devices are not cheap, and some tech skills are required to get your VR kit up and running.

Many perceive VR as an expensive, exclusive technology, but that’s not exactly true. Thanks to Google Cardboard, all you need to connect is a smartphone and their $10 Cardboard viewer. We’ve even made our own branded version of it. Naturally, if you are really into it, you can spend serious coin and get Oculus, Vive or PlayStation VR headsets. But it’s not required to get started.

So, all you need is a headset?

Yeah. While those more expensive headsets generally need to be connected to a powerful gaming PC, the Cardboard just uses your smartphone.

All right, so you buy all that stuff, and that’s it?

Well, not really. When you get all necessary components, you realize installation and setup can take a while.

The technology has a long way to go yet. The software options are limited, and they aren’t always user-friendly. The headsets are massive and inseparable from cable clutter. Cardboards suck phone batteries dry pretty quickly, and the picture quality could be much better, to say the least. But still, it’s worth it.

It’s also one of the reasons xHamster launched VRHub.com. What we’ve tried to do with the site is to take away some of the issues with adult VR by making the content easily accessible to different devices and allowing users to browse hands-free.

What about porn in VR?

The adult industry has been longing for a technology that can bring users and content closer together. This is the reason why we started our project. We see so much potential in VR for people to really feel part of the experience, which is what we want from porn anyhow.

What’s the bottleneck?

No industry standards for VR exist yet, and most videos are produced by non-professionals, which results in questionable content quality. And you have to put a lot of effort into delivering the content to the user.

Last but not least of our concerns is Apple. Sometimes I even have a feeling that killing VR evolution is of highest priority for the guys from Cupertino. The Mac platform is not compatible with headsets, and iPhone has more restrictions regarding VR than useful features. For instance, there is no full-screen mode in the browser, and the address bar often does not hide — which really spoils the picture in the Cardboard, believe me. Besides, 720p resolution is the limit. This is extremely low quality for VR. Apple browsers are limited regarding interaction with domains because of CORS policies, so we had to be extremely inventive with VRHub.com so that our users get video via CDN.

Android is way easier, let alone Samsung with their GearVR dedication. What I can’t understand is why Google enabled compatibility with DayDream only for selected devices — literally, just a few smartphones.

It’s no secret porn has been a force for progress for, like, forever. Do you reckon we are going to witness some VR breakthrough in the near future?

Almost all VR porn is shot with GoPro. Those cams are affordable, although the frame rate could be better. I believe VR revolution is inevitable, we just have to wait for action cam or smartphone manufacturers to present some proper gear.

But there’s still hope, right? There must be some positive trends.

Naturally — and there are many. Adult content is a very specific thing with its own requirement set. Take hands, for instance. To begin with, you need your hands for something other than holding your controller, if you know what I mean. So, with VRHub, we decided to concentrate on hands-free operation to make users’ lives as hassle-free as possible.

But there’s another problem: When you put your headset on, you stop controlling the environment you are in. What if you’re intensely enjoying the latest video and someone barges in? That’s why we added a webcam alert system to our player that notifies you in the VR if the camera detects any motion.

It’s not that seamless when it comes to the content. Scarily realistic scenes where an actress is literally about to poke your eye with her finger — well, maybe not her finger — are not uncommon. Once I saw a video shot from a low position. The girl in it looked like a 15-feet-tall giantess.

And don’t forget about the extremely high image quality requirements: a 4K video separated into two channels — one for each eye — and wrapped looks kind of blurry. Just think about bandwidth needed to watch [VR] vids online. This is complicated by the fact that there are no standard VR shooting specifications or guidelines. Every producer is inventing their own, using different cameras, angles and techniques. So, to be able to play some random video you have to do some serious guessing to find the right settings. That’s why we have put a lot of effort into having our player do that work for you.

As I’ve mentioned before, currently headsets are far from being perfectly ergonomic. Some users start feeling nauseous after watching videos for a short time; some need to rest their eyes often. It might come as a shock, but headsets are not exactly light, either. This puts considerable stress on the neck. On the other hand, you can always consider that some sort of workout.

All in all, the market is still immature, and the crowd that is ready to invest time, effort and money to get to know this technology better is relatively small. And this results in limited software and content options. But we are absolutely positive that this is just the beginning of a long journey, and we are committed to go all the way. We’ve done a lot already, but there’s even more to do.​

 

Marty O'Brien

Marty O'Brien

Raised in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, Marty O'Brien was the first of the O'Brien clan to obtain a college degree. A former sports journalist, O'Brien got a peek at the inner workings of the adult entertainment industry while on an assignment to cover the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined the YNOT editorial team in late 2010 and now specializes in technology , business news and ogling starlets.

Visit Website

Comments are closed.