Within the emerging cybersex technology market in Europe

For adult filmmaker Erika Lust, the future of post-pandemic pornography lies in virtual reality headphones.

The director of titles as Cabaret desire i The intern: a summer of lust says the opportunity to give a more immersive experience is a change of pace for an industry that has changed over the past 18 months.

“The virtual reality experience is more extensive than 2D movies,” he says. “You may experience greater emotional engagement and a different kind of sensory interaction with VR porn.”

Lust is not the only thing he believes in. There is a growing market of people testing virtual reality pornography and a growing number of European companies offering hardware or software that want to take advantage of this fast-growing category in adult films.

It is part of an explosion of interest in various parts of the sextech industry, since erotic audio booties a new devices a male sexual well-being – This has been accelerated by the pandemic and has become widespread amid a broader brand shift in the sextech industry as part of the “welfare” sector.

It also occurs when some companies become mainstream, with adult entertainment site OnlyFans in talks to raise new funding at a valuation of more than $ 1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

VR porn is not a new idea. Like almost everything related to virtual reality, it has been advertised and probably overestimated since near 2015. But overall, it’s expensive, of poor quality, and with poor content that requires cumbersome technology to use.

But there are indications that as VR technology has improved substantially, the demand for VR porn, which is already one of the fastest growing categories on the Adult PornHub website, has been growing, spurred on by the pandemic. as people were trapped at home and wanted a deeper connection.

It is enough to make investors talk about it, at least.

Bryony Cooper, managing partner of VC Accelerator Fund Arkley Brinc and Stephan Morais, managing partner of Indico Capital, say it is part of a cybersex technology trend that is an opportunity for investors.

“There is a massive market for [cybersex tech]. All you have to do is look at the statistics of how many people watch porn online, for example, ”says Cooper.

Erika Lust

It definitely changes

Some say that just as the pandemic has caused a jump in online shopping that is likely to be said here, the accelerated adoption of VR and cybersex porn technology will also continue.

Angelina Aleksandrovich of Raspberry Dream Labs, a virtual reality event platform for progressive arts and entertainment, says: “[Cybersex tech] it will definitely grow very fast, especially with this Covid-19 situation.

“Even though things are back to normal, people have already felt what the other normal is like, when you can be anywhere from your bed … we can’t take away that freedom of connectivity.”

The new Moscow-based company, VRAYU, which is called “VR paradise” in Russian, agrees.

VRAYU sells and rents VR headsets with loaded pornography, created by its content partners and automatically synced with the headphones via an app.

Founder Anna Rayskaya says profits have multiplied twelvefold in the past two years, which she also attributes to the development of standalone headphones like Oculus Go.

Cheating fantasies, where couples see two people having sex and imagine that one is their partner, have been especially popular with VRAYU customers.

“More and more people want live interaction in virtual reality, with real people.”

But what excites people the most is the ability to connect with others, says Rayskaya: “More and more people want live interaction in virtual reality, with real people.”

Dutch sextech company Kiiroo takes this idea one step further by integrating adult VR videos with its remote control devices: remotely controlled sextech that provides tactile (haptic) sensations such as vibrations.

For example, the intensity and speed of sensations provided by the Titan VR Experience stroker, which is a sleeve device that fits a penis, is synchronized with the performers ’movements within a virtual reality video.

VRAYU

If that wasn’t immersive enough, Kiiroo’s FeelStars collection allows users to view VR content with specific adult performers that syncs with a custom penis, with a sleeve opening that builds on that performer’s vulva.

“It’s almost like you’re with them, [as if] you feel them, “says Kiiroo researcher Eleanor Hancock.” It’s an example of how porn is formed differently and experienced differently. “

Get back to work

Morais, from Indico Capital, says that, although the market may be growing, there are still a few …

One of them is the visual quality of virtual reality videos and virtual worlds, and the degree of simulation of physical sensations. “The problem has been how to translate something that is visual into physics,” Morais says. “And I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Another is the cost of technology. “If you use VR, it requires more expensive hardware investments. You have to have an Oculus Rift or something, to really use it, ”says Cooper. “So it’s not accessible to everyone at the moment.”

It is also a market where there are still relatively few companies that fall into the traditional CV mold. While there has been a growing interest in the sex industry in general (with interest in OnlyFans, a prime example), there is still no depth in startups in the VR porn industry.

Sex in cyberspace

These criticisms relate to a bigger problem with sex in cyberspace, which is that technology is still in development. Products like Oculus Quest 2 have improved the experience and the range of content options is better, but it’s still a work in progress.

Watching a video in VR can also be immersive, but users still have limited control over the experience, Aleksandrovich adds. You may be able to change the intensity of a vibration, but it says you can’t alter the content of the video or create your own frames, for example.

Aleksandrovich and his Raspberry Dream Labs team are building entire virtual worlds that users can explore as avatars, where they can interact freely sexually, trying to use some of the ideas of the VR porn industry to create a great social platform for consumers. .

“We’re not PGs, but we’re not pornographic; we’re sitting in this gray area of ​​exploration.”

Nothing is out of bounds within the worlds they try to create, as long as all parties consent to it and no one gets hurt, says Aleksandrovich: “We’re not PG, but we’re not porn, we’re sitting in this gray area of ​​exploration and , essentially, just to give people space to do what they want ”.

The worlds can be accessed through the browser or virtual reality headsets, and in the future, the team plans to integrate into the experience haptic sensors, which would be positioned on erogenous zones. The sensors are currently in the prototype phase.

Raspberry Dream Labs will release its MVP in the next soft release, which will feature a less faithful two-world version. This will also serve as a demonstration for investors who have expressed interest in the platform, from whom the team expects to raise an initial round of £ 1 million.

As haptic technology advances, we will soon be able to see cybersex technology that is increasingly complex and realistic. Ultrasound waves are already used to simulate various tactile sensations, while the potential of brain-computer interfaces (where technologies can receive information and signals from the brain) is an active area of ​​research.

Technologies like these could change the game for sextech. “It’s a huge, huge market, and often investors haven’t been aware of it,” Morais says. “But I think it’s a market where there are lots and lots of niches to create, because basic human nature is to have sex.”

Monica Karpinski is a freelance writer and founder of The Femedic.



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