Mobile Video, Virtual Reality Shaping Porn's Future

Aug 30, 2016 4:00 PM PST

LOS ANGELES — There’s a lot of pussy coming to the virtual reality space — but it might not be what you’re expecting, as a new breed of connected cameras are crafting the future of content creation, and influencing porn production in the process.

It is not the cameras that are important, however, but rather the consumers that will wield them.

While the adult entertainment industry is pinning many of its future hopes on VR, that arena might soon be awash in the next generation of cat videos, VR selfies, and other banal fare that it will be forced to compete with during those moments when viewers don their headset. This is not a simple matter of the infinite cuteness of furry kittens jumping out at you in the ultimate expression of 3D video, but a reflection of the changing role of media for many folks, and the minutiae of their daily lives that they feel compelled to share — a sharing that is increasingly being encouraged.

Writing for TechCrunch, Teleport founder Mike Wadhera points to Instagram’s cloning of Snapchat as evidence of the connected camera revolution, and notes that “Instagram Stories sends a powerful message to hundreds of millions of people for the first time [that] no moment is too small to capture with your smartphone camera.”

According to the company, Instagram Stories lets users share all of the moments of their day, not just the ones they want to keep on their profile — with posted photos and videos appearing together in a slideshow that it calls “your story.”

“With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want, [bringing] your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools,” explains an Instagram spokesperson. “The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.”

It is a promise of content transience that echoes Twitter’s Periscope, which also purges its live video feeds after only 24 hours, setting the stage for the immediacy of media that is so in-demand today — and a benefit for adult content producers that want to minimize the threat of piracy while maximizing their opportunities for privacy and profit.

Wadhera cites VR video adoption, mobile-video user needs and the rising tide of smartphone cameras, as three key market drivers; and frames mobile-video sharing in terms of users’ core needs: immediacy, authenticity and immersion.

“The oldest and most basic user need is immediacy, or the ability to access content in real time, which is rooted in our consumption of broadcast TV and radio media,” Wadhera wrote. “When people think about mobile video, they often start and stop at immediacy. As a result, immediacy features are often overvalued, in some cases to the detriment of usability.”

Authenticity and immersion also come into play, because without authenticity, you’re playing a video game or watching a cartoon, not experiencing “real life” — the experience that VR immersion seeks to replicate for users.

“Today’s best mobile-video apps make you feel like you’re there watching,” Wadhera adds, “but tomorrow’s apps will [make you] feel like you’re participating.”

That feeling of participation, also known as presence, is much more convincing when it caters to all of a user’s senses, including taste, smell, hearing, and touch, not just vision.

Vision (and hearing) is the easy part, because we’re all carrying video cameras with us today as we tote our phones everywhere, and this is the realm of traditional content creation. The key for top-tier adult operators looking for a competitive edge in the VR world will be to include smell, taste and touch, as product differentiators.

Work is now underway on various techniques for “printing” scent from video (including being triggered through closed captioning), while a less tech-forward approach could be as simple as scratch-and-sniff perfume labels on physical media — such as the discs that make transferring enormous VR files possible.

Likewise, flavored lubes and a wide range of edibles have long been sex shop staples, so it’s not too far-fetched to think that some savvy operator will figure out a way to include flavored lozenges or some such with their latest release — and perhaps profit from repeat sales of these consumable items.

The touch component is already here through connected haptics. Putting it all together will be the key to success, and to standout from the coming flood of consumer-produced VR content shared across social media, where VR will become commonplace (at least Facebook is betting so), and provide insights for porn promoters seeking to ride current trends.

Wadhera speculates on further technological advances, such as an evolution of Samsung’s standalone Gear 360 camera into integrated 360° video recording on an upcoming Galaxy smartphone, and further down the road, light-field video cameras on smartphones, boosting quality and raising the competitive bar.

“When VR video capture becomes possible on mobile, the demand for VR video will meet the supply of billions of smartphone users who are now recording both big and small moments of their lives,” explains Wadhera. “This will be a major leap for the Experience Age and create a positive feedback loop between mobile and VR, which is one way virtual reality could shift from a promising demo to a truly mainstream technology. Get your camera ready.”

As adult content creators continue writing the book on VR production, they must contend with a fast growing range of considerations, and find inspiration in how consumers and other market verticals are approaching the opportunities presented by mobile virtual reality — including their craving for cute kittens...

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