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09.19.15 1:06 PM ET

Hologram Porn: The Most Realistic Sex Imaginable

The VR porn revolution is upon us. But will audiences shell out big bucks for in-your-face sex?

Why watch porn when you can experience it?

Lay back and relax. Look around the room and watch as your partners disrobe, revealing smoldering hot bodies. No pressure, just let them do all the work as you experience your first three-way. No need to be nervous, these women will ease you in and show you how it’s done. The blonde one, Anna, whispers naughty things in your right ear, while Sara, the brunette, looks up at you with her big blue eyes asking if you like what’s she’s doing. Some men might even think of this as a dream come true, and unless you turn a little too far in your chair, it feels surprisingly real.

Virtual reality porn is finally here, and a lot more effective than you might think. Three years ago, the Oculus Rift exceeded crowdfunding expectations on Kickstarter, raising over $2 million for a campaign that hoped for $250,000. Since then, the world of VR has grown exponentially. The now Facebook-owned Oculus Rift has a lot of company in the VR development space, but none of them are as inviting to developers and early-adopting consumers as the Oculus—a smart move that’s boosted popularity and attracted many porn entrepreneurs to make the VR leap.

Consumers’ insatiable appetite for discreet sexual content has, historically speaking, been the difference between successful emerging tech and the flops. Remember Google Glass? Some feel if they’d been more porn-friendly, it’d have been more successful. Adhering to policies that prohibited the use of sexually graphic material lessened enthusiasm for the new tech. From VCR to video-on-demand, porn has historically been the driving force behind successful new entertainment mediums. And the realm of virtual reality is no different. While the actual Oculus product is only available as a development kit in 2015, that hasn’t stopped porn companies from creating content for fully functional subscription-based VR sites.

From the man who brought adult entertainment to the Internet in the ‘90s comes another pioneering move at the crossroads of porn and tech. Brian Shuster, founder of virtual reality network Utherverse (parent company to Red Light Center, an online meta-verse for the role-playing community), has been working in the virtual realm long before VR headsets were a possibility. Disappointed with the current state of VR porn, Shuster is proposing a new wave of virtual reality porn: an immersive experience that lets users move around in a 3D space. The closer you get, the more you see, from hair follicles to imperfections to the faint hint of a smile post-coitus.  

“I spent 12 years developing software, operating systems, and the browsers for virtual reality. I know the content that needs to be produced because I’ve been immersed in virtual reality for so long,” says Shuster. Concern has been expressed for the future of VR, if consumer’s expectations for VR porn aren’t met when the headsets become commercially available in 2016.

“It’s not worth it to buy a headset, put it on, and deal with the deficiencies that come along with it just to get what we’ve already rejected before, which is 3D porn,” says Shuster. “There’s no difference between current virtual reality porn and 3D porn. In current virtual reality you can turn your head and see where the performers are located, so you can look all around the scene, but from the standpoint of a performance you are still seeing porn performers from one angle in 3D.”

Shuster wants to change that. Creating live-action holograms, filmed with an extensive array of cameras, will enable users to view a performer from every angle, just as in real life. Along with holograms, Shuster is working on Syntholograms, a realistically-filmed scene where users can walk around the environment, step to the side and peer around without seeing a cutoff. Innovative new tech can be pricey, even when it’s for the stereotypically cheap porn genre. The holograms alone cost $40,000 a minute to produce, according to Shuster.

Proposing complex content unlike anything that has yet been produced for adult entertainment, Shuster has turned to crowdfunding to raise money and awareness for VR Holographic Porn. Distancing themselves from the current production of 180-degree VR porn, the #givepornahand campaign promises 360-degree porn as well as live-action holograms “that will ensure your VR porn experiences in the future will be as mind-blowing as Sandra Bullock’s and Sylvester Stallone’s in Demolition Man.”

What Shuster is proposing to do for porn is extremely high tech, but is it what porn consumers want? Companies like Virtual Real Porn offer high-quality “virtual reality” porn online, viewable through either the Oculus Rift or the Samsung Gear VR (a headset that turns your smartphone into a VR device). Despite minimal user movement, the sexual experience is surprisingly immersive.

Authentically-filmed porn stars seduce and have sex with you in a POV-style format, with no computer generated graphic stand-ins. From lying down or standing up, there is little to do but watch and enjoy for the pleasure-receiving male, or female. Though you can look around the 3D scene, you can’t lean in to get closer, or move your head around to get another angle on the action. Looking too far on either side will reveal the camera’s limits, and looking behind you’ll see nothing at all. For a VR user this may be a huge disappointment. However, some may argue that no one watching VR porn cares about looking around the room—unless of course it’s a virtual orgy.

Linda Wells, company manager for Virtual Real Porn, believes both formats have their merits but finds the 180-degree method to be more appropriate for their VR content. “With the 180 view you have more immersion in terms of 3D compared to the 360 view, which has some drawbacks on that point at this moment. The 180 VR view is good enough for certain fantasies.” Virtual Real Porn creates content easily accessible to consumers—all you need is a smartphone, a cheap headset, and an app. Boasting original content with higher fps and sharper image, Wells says, “We not only focus on video quality, we are adding teledildonics like Kiiroo and Lovense that synchronize with our own player for Windows and Gear VR.” Now users can be physically and mentally immersed in the experience, actually feeling what they see as it happens.

As one of the first adult actresses to focus on live streaming VR, 29-year-old Ela Darling is perfectly happy with the 180-degree format. “Filming VR in 360 degrees was cool but not for porn. I’d much rather spend that bandwidth elsewhere. And why use twelve cameras worth of data when you really only need two cameras worth to enjoy the experience?” says Darling. “Shooting the 180-degree capture is better and easier to download because you aren’t capturing an entire room. It’s a better use of the VR medium in my experience.”

A significant stakeholder in Vrtube.xxx, Darling is determined to help her company find its place and excel in the newly exposed market—which is why she’s focused on live streaming VR and holograms. “It’s part of the industry’s future. We need to embrace virtual reality since it offers us an entirely new way to sell content,” says Darling. “The porn industry is suffering. There is this whole generation of consumers who find it audacious to pay for porn, if you suggest they pay for porn they’d laugh at you. They won’t pay for porn but they might pay for an experience.”