(Above: New Windows compatible VR Goggles left to right: Lenovo, HP, Asus, Acer, Del)
This is a continuing column on the developing world of virtual reality porn and other sex related technologies. The author has been reviewing computer software and technology for over 20 years.
This month we’ll give you the latest about the Microsoft support for VR and what that means for the future of VR Sex.
Microsoft entered the VR space with what they called Augmented Reality under their HoloLens project. Their goggles let you see the actual reality in front of you, but overlay computer graphics that appear to move within your actual space. It maps your real world environment so that computer generated images don’t walk through walls or tables. You can also map objects onto real world surfaces, such as putting a virtual television on the wall.
What they are trying to do is enormously ambitious, and because of the sheer amount of technology in the headset, the AG headsets are not going to be cheap anytime soon- especially when you consider that for what they really want to do, they will need a lot more horsepower. For now, the goggles have a very narrow field of view with images residing in the space equivalent to a 15 inch monitor, something that can be solved only with more processing horsepower. The HoloLens goggles are currently only available to developers, and they cost $3,000. Getting that price down, considering the hardware, will be quite a challenge.
With the growing popularity of VR, they changed their focus to what they call Mixed Reality. What that exactly means, I don’t think even Microsoft knows yet. Their AG demos are impressive, but they take place in minimalistic rooms with nothing hanging on the walls and very little furniture. There are so many unanswered questions.
AR is still very much a virtual reality, in that we don’t know when consumer units will be available. It does have the possibility to become important, but it is going to have to have some seriously useful and exciting applications to justify what has to be a very high price, since it is a fairly powerful computer shrunk down small enough to sit on your face (and we are not talking about VR porn here). It is essentially a next generation Google Glass, with the new feature of being able to interact with the real world environment.
As to AR’s application to porn, at some point the clever folks in adult entertainment will come up with some great ideas. Eventually, a naked woman will be able to come into your living room and sit on your couch, and you will be able to interact with her. That, though, is a long ways off.
The market for the here and now is in VR. There has been a lot of adult VR produced, thanks largely to surprisingly low cost VR cameras available now can record 360 degree videos, but not in 3D. That makes a huge difference, since I don’t think that 2D VR is the real deal. It has to be in 3D to create an immersive experience. Much of the free VR porn is in 2D, and is just not the same experience. You really need to check out the top commercial VR sites if you want to see what the state of the art is (see last month’s Sex Tech column).
This summer, a number of low cost 360 degree 3D VR cameras are coming on the market. That will probably lead to an explosion in VR porn, since the entry cost for developers will go way down. Right now, camming leads the porn world, and doing live VR still has it complexities, although there are turnkey companies like RGBVR that can provide a content developer with everything they need. We will leave live VR for another column.
The cost of entry for high quality goggles is fairly high. Surprisingly decent results can be had with Google cardboard and Google cardboard compatible goggles, but you get a much better experience with more advanced (and up until now, very expensive goggles). The big wait has been for the announcement of the Microsoft Windows compatible goggles that were reportedly going to be much less expensive than the higher end competition.
We finally have some real news. One of the key things we learned is that VR is not a main focus for the XBox. Microsoft is aiming its VR technology at Windows 10 devices. We also learned that Direct Reality is a set of APIs similar to DirectX, but for VR.
The first headsets we should see will be from Dell and Acer. ASUS, HP, and Lenovo headsets should follow. As to the specifications, Microsoft has not revealed much. The pricing has been described as incredibly affordable. I suspect we’ll see these start to appear closer to Christmas. Then we’ll know just how much of a revolution they are.