In recent years, one of the most significant changes to the world of webcam is the inclusion of virtual reality (VR) technology during broadcasts. VR can offer a whole new dimension to cam, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the show they’re watching.
One of the main differences between a conventional cam broadcast and VR is the equipment outlay. This affects both model and viewer. In most instances, in addition to some form of headset, VR porn — as in pre-shot content — needs multiple angles of the same shot to make sure the viewer can look in any direction. Translating this process to webcam can be difficult, especially for independent webcam performers.
Earlier this year, Swiss startup Terpon announced the company would release a front-facing, plug-and-play VR webcam specifically targeted at adult performers. To keep the price affordable, Terpon rents the cameras, allowing performers to upgrade easily, and also offers ongoing tech support. The new technology offers exciting opportunities for cam models and performers — but now, several months later, has the program had any real impact?
Haven’t heard about Terpon’s rental camera/technology program? Read our coverage right here — “Virtual Reality Camming: The Next Big Thing?“
We spoke to Cams.com contract model Shawna Leneé about how VR has changed her personal viewing habits. (Shawna is a huge fan of VR webcam porn.) She told us, “Yeah, I love watching VR. I had found myself bored with all porn about a year ago. Nothing fit my fancy. Then, [Terpon] gave away free VR viewers at an expo, and I’ve been sold ever since. I love how I can actually feel like the girls are right in front of me. I don’t think I’ve watched non-VR content since I made the switch.”
Based on personal experience, Leneé recommends trying a few headsets if yours doesn’t feel right at first. “At first the viewer was a little difficult to get used to,” she said. “But after a couple of tries, I got used to it. I bought my own lightweight VR viewer from Amazon for $15, because I have a smaller face and wanted something very light.”
Editor’s note: If you are exploring VR shows, keeping in mind what sort of technology your customers have — from headsets to internet access — may prevent potential issues.
Despite being a fan of the medium, Leneé has yet to make her own VR webcam content. Technology, she explained, is the issue.
“I lack a very-high-speed internet connection where I live, and this is my biggest downfall for camming and streaming content,” she said. “I am waiting on my suburban area to get a higher-speed wired connection. Just waiting on those internet companies.”
Could VR webcamming threaten standard cam shows? Leneé said her feelings are mixed, but encouraging.
“I think there will be a market for both, at least for a while,” she said. “Internet connections in America and worldwide vary extremely. I think it will depend on what tools are made available to both consumer and cam models.”
Sex blogger Girl on the Net is a massive fan of sex tech, but she doesn’t use the technology to watch everything. She said she was drawn to VR by the novelty aspect.
“Initially, I was drawn to it because it was new and shiny and different, but now I mostly like it for the immersive possibilities,” she said.
Girl on the Net said the cost of VR equipment is not “not really” a factor, at least for her.
“I have a Google cardboard viewer — great for testing; not so great for long-term use,” she said. “Once I’d tested with that and realized VR was fun, I invested in a plastic headset from Amazon that you strap your phone in. You don’t necessarily need a pricey Oculus Rift to get the benefits of VR tech.”
Much like Leneé, Girl on the Net said equipment needs to be affordable before VR becomes the webcam standard, but there is room for both VR and conventional content.
“Webcam performers will presumably need to invest a lot of money [in technology and equipment], and at the moment it’s not clear how much they’ll see in return,” she said. “It could well be that most people dip into VR content because they’re curious. If pressed, I’d guess that standard porn will remain the most common, but there’ll be a few amazing webcam performers who really carve out a name for themselves in the VR niche.”
Both Girl on the Net and Leneé opined the quality of the streams is one of the disadvantages of VR content.
“Video quality is massively variable,” Girl on the Net said. “People who have just got a VR webcam and filmed scenes as normal, expecting the VR to just add some extra magic, [may be disappointed].
“It’s important if you’re shooting VR not to just shoot as you normally would, but rather ask, ‘Why am I specifically using this medium? What can VR do that other porn can’t?’” she continued. “You want to make use of the intimacy of VR — have lots of noises close to the mic or lean in and over the subject, for example.”
Both Leneé and Girl on the Net are enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by VR; however, both believe the technology’s price could impact the medium’s success. Could Terpon’s VR webcam rental scheme help webcam performers jump the hurdle? It sounded like the idea had potential earlier this year, but the jury still seems to be out.
Find Shawna Leneé on Twitter at @ShawnaLeneeShow.
Katy Seymour is a super-sex-positive writer in the U.K. who believes kink is life. Email her at email@example.com.