How the Adult Industry Drives Innovation

Published: AUGUST 29, 2016 | Updated: MARCH 9, 2022
Love might make the world go 'round, but porn continues to provide an avenue for the advancement of technology and a feeling of community.
Imagine your sex life without technology. No porn! No vibrators! What would we do? These adult products area a thriving business because of technological advances, but the path to these advances isn’t only one way. Sometimes, innovation travels in the other direction. In fact, the desire for adult products has had a significant influence on technological advances as well. Those creating adult products and technology can definitely influence the mainstream, especially with all the demand driving them to innovate and succeed.

Let's Talk About Porn

Consider our relationship to porn. These days, porn can be accessed any second of any day. And not just any porn - ALL of the porn. You can find anything you want to watch whenever you want just by cruising the Internet on a computer or your phone. Certainly, this wasn’t always the case. Imagine having to leave your home and travel to a theater full of other horny folks just to watch a pornographic film. That’s right: that brownish-black shiny strip that came wound on these things called reels. Someone else would press play and you’d have the privilege of watching a whole porn movie without the benefit of pausing or switching to a different clip or website. Times have certainly changed for the better!

From Theater to Home

Because porn was available to so few, when video came along, the industry jumped on it. Porn producers flocked to VHS because it finally provided the opportunity for consumers to bring naked fun into their homes. As VCRs became commonplace in homes, so did dirty movies. They were flying off the shelves, both as sales and rentals. The porn industry exploded as a result of this new technology and shifted out of film altogether. Of course, as porn was selling like hotcakes, the mainstream film industry also embraced the sale and rental of films, revolutionizing that industry as well.

How Porn Helps Advance Technology

Then, along came the Internet. It may have been created for intra-university communication or the military, but it didn’t stay in that realm for long. Once the potential of sending sexy images, text and, later, video clips across great distances became a reality, the Internet became all about porn. While the adult industry didn’t invent the Internet, it has certainly been key in advancing it. Looking at pictures and videos requires faster connections and data transfer. Videos require reliable, stable media players. Purchasing your porn (which we should all do!) requires an online payment system. Just as porn exploded all over VCRs, it enjoyed another massive growth spurt when it hit the Web. And as soon as personal use of digital photo and video devices became affordable and available, many people also started producing their own porn, for both fun and profit. The early 2000’s saw a significant number of amateur porn sites take off as people began exploring not only their exhibitionist side but also expanding their bank accounts. Anyone could shoot a sexy movie and post it online. Today, online porn is ubiquitous. Society still struggles with just how pervasive it is, but those who have grown up with porn being so readily accessible are starting to look past traditional adult entertainment and into the future ...

Porn and Virtual Reality

It’s time for virtual reality. VR is nothing new, but it hasn’t ever been anything great. We’ve flirted with the idea of virtual reality for years, but neither products nor demand have lived up to the hype. That might all change with the help of a librarian-turned-porn star and a young computer genius. Super nerdy porntrepreneur Ela Darling has been in the industry for a number of years. When she was contacted by a group in Maryland for a filming assignment, she had no idea she’d be on the path to revolutionizing the way we view porn. Her now business partner outlined a plan to film a sample of virtual reality smut with the hopes of getting the product to work with the Oculus Rift. Ela was hooked and dove headlong into the project. They've progressed from a simple, DIY set-up to running, a multi-experiential site offering a new adult entertainment experience. has also partnered with to develop live streaming VR tech together. Based on her experience doing cam work, Ela was aware that it isn’t just sex that people want to see; they want connection and relationships. “I think this technology will help tackle loneliness,” she explains with empathy clear in her voice. “Virtual reality has the opportunity to foster intimate connections.” To fill this need, VRTube not only offers hot scenes, but also a coffee date mode!

3D Holographic Porn

Because things can happen so fast in the technological world, Ela and her partner have made further progress with better camera rigs. This has moved them in exciting, new directions. One such realm they’ve entered is refining and making awesome 3D holographic porn. The results are stunning. People can engage in full stereoscopic, 360 degree positional tracking in different environments. These can be enjoyed either via Oculus or right on the website.

Development Is Key to Technologically Advanced Future

Development is key to establishing new technologies - it can literally make or break any new product or company. If money for research, testing and refinement isn’t available, new products rarely make it from concept to reality. Without an online campaign, attaining funding for sex-related projects can be challenging, if not impossible. Sites like Indiegogo (Kickstarter isn’t a fan of sex products) allow entrepreneurs the opportunity to appeal directly to their future consumers. The Web technology that allows for easy and quick monetary transactions, while not unique to the adult world, has been wholeheartedly embraced by sex producers. No doubt someone will create an adult industry specific model someday - if there isn’t one already. (Read more in Top 8 Indiegogo Sex Toy Success Stories.) A relatively recent and well-publicized success came from Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman of Dame Products, who used the increasingly popular concept of crowdfunding and set an Indiegogo fundraising record to launch their revolutionary product, Eva. In doing so, they showed that there are innovative ways to fund companies in the sex industry, which has long faced hurdles when it comes to accessing the funding that is available to other types of businesses. “I think crowdfunding will make it more accessible for those who are inspired to bring their product to market," explains Alexandra. “Crowdfunding lowers the barriers, but there are still a lot of barriers. I don't think anyone starts a company thinking, ‘Oh, this will be easy,’ even if it is easier today than it was five years ago.”

New Technology Brings Communities Together

However, it isn’t just money that crowdfunding offers. There is also a sexual community feeling that grows through this technology. “From the consumer's perspective,” offers Janet Lieberman, “I think that toys produced through direct public appeal confirm what we all want to hear about our sexuality and sexual desires; that we are not alone. We're not weird or confused or deviant or broken; the things that we want, other people want too. I think that more than trust in the product, toys produced through direct public appeal provide almost an indirect community; a trust in one's own desire for a product.” This aspect is actually fairly universal to how the sex industry furthers technology. Without a desire or need for a product and community engagement, no technology will succeed. It just so happens that sexual experiences are something many people will go to great lengths to get, which often drives business innovation in and attempt to meet demand.
Jon Pressick

Jon Pressick is a sex-related media gadabout. For more than 20 years, Jon has been putting sex into our daily conversations at his long-running site SexInWords—as a writer, editor, publisher, sex toy reviewer, radio host, workshop facilitator, event producer and more. These days, he focuses on writing for Kinkly, GetMeGiddy, The Buzz and PinkPlayMags and editing Jason Armstrong's series of Solosexual books. In 2015, Jon edited Cleis Press' Best Sex Writing of the...

Latest Sex Positions