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Adult entertainment turning to virtual reality to ensure its future

AFP-JIJI

Just ask Anna Lee: Woody Allen’s Orgasmatron, his futuristic vision of self-initiated sex from the 1973 movie “Sleeper,” has finally become a reality — virtual reality, that is.

Lee, president of Holofilm Productions of Vancouver, British Columbia, stood on the exhibition floor of the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. She held in her hand $99 virtual reality goggles that she said will revolutionize the way consumers watch pornography.

The Samsung goggles are the next baby step to what Lee and others hope will one day become a pure virtual reality experience.

With the glasses on, paired with the firm’s specially filmed Holo Girls Virtual Reality hardware, viewers may feel like they are actually on the set. They can turn their head 180 degrees to see action.

“We’re taking porn to the next level to better immerse the viewer in the experience,” she said.

“No longer will scenes be flat and two-dimensional. Viewers can now feel like they’re part of the action.”

This year’s annual adult entertainment convention deals with a range of issues facing the industry: protecting actresses from abuse on the set, feminist erotica and better ways to battle online piracy.

The industry, which has long prided itself as being on the cutting edge of technology, is leveraging its resources to go beyond 3-D and mobile viewing to the feeling of being there.

“Porn consumption has come a long way from 40 years ago, when you had to watch films in some theater with 400 other people, to watching VHS (videos) in your dorm room,” said Farrell Hirsch, who managed a display for Vivid Radio, which advertises porn stars on the airwaves around the clock. “Porn is getting more personal. In the next decade, who knows where it’s going to go?”

According to some estimates, there are 25 million porn sites worldwide, making up a growing percentage of all websites.

The consensus at the AVN convention was that the industry has to stay one step ahead of conventional technology to ensure its future.

The four-day AVN Expo, held at the Hard Rock Hotel just off the Las Vegas Strip, still flaunted some of the industry’s old-school offerings such as lifelike love dolls and male enhancement products.

But looking around, the place also carried a more modern feel. Older men with bad toupees had been replaced by young hipsters.

Lee said this year’s show offered a nascent version of what she expects to become a totally interactive experience.

The company’s advertising seems a bit far-fetched, promising that “we are dedicated to creating the most compelling content ever made for human enjoyment — and then we will make it better.”

Lee said new filming techniques mean no cutting or splicing, but action that takes place in real time.

“Everyone is talking about this; they’re scrambling to create new content,” she said.

“And this is different from, say, 3-D technology. This is a step forward that is here to stay.”

In the future, she says, will come male manipulators with pulses that are paired with action on the screen.

A demonstration of several virtual-reality films showed a somewhat fuzzy picture compared to today’s high-definition television.

But the trade-off was that a viewer could look around the room — in one case seeing a drum set and, presumably the actress’s clothes and high heels on the edge of the set.

So, Woody Allen was a visionary after all?

“I would say so,” Lee said. “Right now the technology is still rudimentary. Virtual reality is only going to get better. After that, watch out.”

Still, she pointed out a few potential drawbacks.

“We’re heading toward a time where, when it comes to sex, virtual reality may equal or better reality itself,” Lee said.

“I’m old-fashioned. I like to get out and meet people and feel the air on my face. But not everyone is like that. So I think this is a technology that should be used in moderation.”