The World’s Gone Mad, but at Least We Have AR Porn

There’s a naked woman dancing in front me on the aging, yet still elegant carpet at the historic Driskill Hotel in Downtown Austin, Texas. I’m desperately uncomfortable as I whip my head around to see if anyone’s noticed.

“Um, well done, but do you have, uh…” I search for the words as Andreas Hronopoulos CEO of Naughty America, sensing my discomfort, offers that he also has a clothed model.

“Yes,” I say, relieved, “switch to that.”

Burning embarrassment aside, I am impressed. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen augmented reality porn, which Hronopoulos insists on calling a hologram, and the effect is arresting.

Put simply, Naughty America, which has made a business of adapting cutting-edge technology and innovation to fit its adult enterprise, is now integrating augmented reality into the mix. Hronopoulos asked for a moment at the recently concluded South by Southwest (SXSW) to show me the bleeding edge of adult content. He planned to spend a few days at the conference, with a porn star in tow, showing off the technology to whomever would listen.

The company has a habit of operating on the fringes of the SXSW Interactive Festival. A few years ago at another SXSW, Naughty America rented out a house just outside downtown where it demonstrated its then nascent VR porn efforts, which have now ballooned into one of their most popular membership offerings.

As with many filmed VR experiences, Naughty America’s VR porn, which you can view in Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and a number of other VR headsets, is essentially 2D movies that wrap around you. You can look around to see what’s happening above, below and to the left and right of the action, but you can’t step into it.

The augmented reality Hronopoulos shows me is different. Using third-party filming technology that Hronopoulos would not describe in detail, Naughty America creates an AR experience that lets the user use his or her phone screen — provided it supports AR — to approach the adult performer and walk completely around him or her.

For now, the experience is just single adult actress or actor, but Hronopoulos says that narrative content is on the horizon. The image of people using their phones to walk around an entire adult scene that appears to be happening in their living room flashes across my mind’s eye and I remind myself I’ll need to wash my eyes out with soap later.

“I feel terrible for the models,” I say to Hronopoulos. He looks at me with a bit of alarm. I explain that adult content stars have already had to deal with HD content which leaves little to the imagination when it comes to scars, blemishes, etc. Now… “Right,” Hronopoulos interrupts, “You really see what people look like. There’s no more ‘let’s see a good angle.’ Every angle is open.”

Hronopoulos demonstrates the experience in his Android Phone, which he claims offers much better image quality. To start the program, there’s a brief moment of calibration where the app has to find the floor plane. There is an iOS version, but Andreas says their platform relies on the Littlstar Premium App to play Naughty America’s 3D volumetric characters and the resulting quality isn’t yet as good as it is on Android, where Naughty America’s AR app plays natively.

I had to admit, the woman I saw through his Android screen did look like she was really pole dancing in the middle of the hotel.

The app, which is live now and included with the $98-a-year Naughty America membership, allows the user to snap images of the experience. I warn Andreas that I’m sure we’ll soon see people sharing photos of themselves with tiny naked people dancing on their shoulders. He seems amused at the thought.

“Sure. You can make them tiny and put them on this table,” he says, gesturing at the small cocktail table between us.

The demo happened here, at the 132-year-old Driskill Hotel in Downtown Austin.

According to a recent PornHub survey, some 67% of their members view porn on their mobile phones. Thinking about my own discomfort, I ask Hronopoulos where he thought people might actually view their naughty AR models. Hronopoulos laughs and says — as if it’s obvious — people would watch on their phones at home.

We talk a bit more about how often the adult industry leads the way on bleeding edge tech adoption: first with VHS, then DVD, then HD, the Internet, then streaming. He agrees, but when talk turns to sex robots, he dismisses it as “garbage.” Hronopoulos also briefly addresses the alarming deep fakes trend in which celebrity faces are placed on adult film stars bodies as they are, well, you know.

Naughty America doesn’t allow that content on its site, but it will create custom deep fakes for its customers. “You know what they ask for?” Hronopoulos says with a slightly disturbing gleam in his eye, “they want to be in the scene.”

I don’t understand, so Hronopoulos explains his company puts the customer’s head on the porn performer’s body.

I shake my head, “I really don’t understand people.”