VR Bangers, an adult virtual reality content studio, has announced a new gadget they say will help fans “finally feel like they are getting kissed and caressed, while their favorite girls whisper right into their ears.” While it’s undoubtedly bizarre looking, the camera/microphone mannequin head aims to take the place of a traditional camera or a microphone so that the studio’s actors can act more naturally and therefore give the end user a more immersive experience. If only it didn’t have such lifeless eyes (black eyes, like a doll’s eyes).
VR Bangers CTO Boris Smirnoff says that the rig was especially made for adult VR scenes because they noticed there was “a much warmer and more intimate emotional attachment between the performer and the recording device if the device itself is able to be kissed, caressed and whispered to in the same sort of ways that a real person would sense those subtle communications.”
The rig, reportedly the first of its kind, was custom-built by the studio’s R&D team. It contains binaural sound microphones in each ear and two forward-facing cameras where the user’s eyes would be, delivering “true 4K resolution” at 60fps. The head also includes multiple cameras on the front, back and top to capture a full 360 degree area.
“[T]he more we can help our models get the most out of their play space, the better our content will continue to be and the real winner in this line of advancements is always our fans,” says Smirnoff.
So somehow this bizarre mannequin rig is supposed to get the studio’s actors more into their roles, but what about all this ‘kissing, caressing, and whispering’ business we were told about? While spatial (3D) audio is an essential component of any VR experience, and giving someone a realistic audio experience is fundamental to anchoring their consciousness in another world, this may have more to do with triggering a certain response in users than just giving the actors a prop to smooch on.
Is Sound Sexy?
Some people—ok, a surprisingly large number of people—clearly find certain sounds gratifying, and a fairly recent phenomenon called autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) has made a splash on YouTube to scratch that particular psychological itch with a binaural flair. Triggering the response supposedly gives certain people a low-grade euphoria that so called ‘YouTube ASMRtists’ try to create by using a number perfectly innocent methods; like rustling paper or whispering softly about painting ‘happy trees’ like Bob Ross. It’s mostly about relaxation and generally feeling fuzzy inside.
While it’s uncertain how many people associate ASMR with sexuality, and ASMRtists can of course come in any shape or gender, there’s certainly a grey area here, evidenced by the fact that the highest number of ASMR clicks are going to angelic, soft-speaking girls in their 20s combing puppies, tapping their fingernails on glass, sometimes roleplaying as store clerks, dentists, or sci-fi maidens.
And ASMR’s chief proponent and gold standard on YouTube is unequivocally Ally Maque, otherwise known as the host of ASMRrequests and the VR-centric vlog PixelWhipt (all of the above examples are from her work). Amassing over 90 million views across her ASMR videos, Maque is far and way the most technologically adept, capturing audio using a number of binaural microphones, at some points even using one of those equally weird-looking 360 microphone rigs.
Check out one of Ally’s more sensual 360 videos to get a better idea of what she’s tapping into. Don’t worry, it’s all wholesome PG fun.
Lastly, there is an entire sub-genre of adult ASMR videos (2D) that can be found on major adult sites, the most popular of which has topped over a million views (we do the research so you don’t have to). So maybe VR Bangers isn’t really so far out with their rubber mannequin-camera-rig-head-thing as we initially thought, because there’s obviously a prospective market in all of this.
We can only hope the studio doesn’t film near mirrors.