School of Computing

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The ‘reality’ of virtual reality pornography

Experts at Computing Science are investigating how virtual reality is changing the experience of pornography.

Through headsets such as the Facebook owned Oculus Rift and Playstation VR, the technology allows the user to become an active part of these ‘new’ sexual experiences.

Presenting their research at the CHI 2017 conference, the Newcastle team say the growing popularity of VR technologies that put users into experiences where previously they were an onlooker, could mean the extreme, degrading or even abusive imagery in pornography becoming all the more ‘real’.

Now the team, based in Open Lab, part of Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science, are calling on the digital community to take responsibility for this emerging technology and to help inform the development of this “very prominent, but not often talked about, ‘human-computer’ interaction”.

Dr Madeline Balaam, co-author of the research, explains:

“As a society we are always looking for new and novel experiences but the porn industry brings with it an added risk because of its sexist stance and exploitation of women.

“We are already obsessed with body image and the digital industry is no different, creating the perfect virtual woman from Lara Croft to sex-robots. VR porn has the potential to escalate this.

Our research highlighted not only a drive for perfection, but also a crossover between reality and fantasy. Some of our findings highlighted the potential for creating 3D models of real life people, raising questions over what consent means in VR experiences. 

Read the full University Press Release here, and also in The Telegraph, Daily Mail and Chronicle Live.

VR Headset

published on: 19 May 2017