Even though Google Glass just banned porn, the adult industry still looks to adapt and drive new technology.
Whether its interactive motion-controlled porn, sexual avatars, biofeedback or 3D video, the adult industry looks to perfect and broaden the commercialization of new technologies, according to Patchen Barss, author of “The Erotic Engine: How Pornography has Powered Mass Communication from Gutenberg to Google.”
Other areas where porn is on the frontier include computer controlled sex toys called “teledildonics,” Internet cash transactions, virtual worlds and lobbying for anti-piracy legislation, he said.
Some adult entertainment executives are even experimenting with haptic technologies so they can add another sense, touch, to the porn viewing experience. For example, the product RealTouch uses a high-tech orifice with heaters and servomotors to recreate the sensations of a porn scene. Products like RealTouch push the technology to find an initial market, which then shifts the public mindset and makes it easier for other products using the technology to find mainstream use, Barss said.
An example of a non-porn product captivating this porn driven technology can be seen in the oddest places – overactive parents preparing for child birth.
The diaper maker Huggies recently come out with a “pregnancy belt” that uses haptic technology to allow an expecting father to experience the feeling of the baby kicking in the mother’s womb. Products like the Huggies belt are possible because porn pushed the technology in its early stages, Barss said. While computerizing orgasms might seem like science fiction, driving technological adaption and innovation is not a new phenomenon for the adult industry.
While the military created the Internet, it would not have found a solid consumer base without porn. Not only did the adult industry find enough early consumers to keep the Internet around, but it then pioneered streaming video, tracking devices and online credit card transactions. The concept of ecommerce, which is now a major part of the world economy, owes much of its early existence to porn.
“The industry has convincingly demonstrated that consumers are willing to shop online and are willing to use credit cards to make purchases,” said Frederick Lane in “Obscene Profits: The Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age.” “In the process, the porn industry has served as a model for a variety of online sales mechanisms, including monthly site fees, the provision of extensive free material as a lure to site visitors, and the concept of upselling (selling related services to people once they have joined a site). In myriad ways, large and small, the porn industry has blazed a commercial path that other industries are hastening to follow.”
On top of that, porn drove the demand for bandwidth since it dominated the flow of images and video on the Internet, Barss said.
“Because there was a perpetual demand for more, different and better pornographic products, bandwidth needed to grow,” he said.
That’s why bandwidth growth might be porn’s greatest contribution to the Internet since it allowed more material to move around the world at a much quicker rate. Think of the military as the inventor and creator of a product and porn as the entrepreneur who brings the product to the masses.
Porn also shaped other technologies such as library card cataloging systems and the home video market due to its large role during the VCR and Betamax battles. There’s even evidence that erotica helped popularize early printing presses. Even technologies like Snapchat, a mobile app that allows you to send an image that self-destructs after a few seconds, are partially adopted and driven by a desire to send sexy pictures to one another.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that researchers like Barss suggest that any business model for new communications technologies should venture into the porn market during its early days. Even if Google bans it.