There's increasing talk that we could be witnessing the inflation of a colossal virtual reality bubble, and it's an argument that's easy to support given the technology's decades-long history of never quite catching on. But one very important bellwether industry has invested in the technology, which is a strong sign that it's finally here to stay.
The forward-thinking industry I'm talking about is, of course, the adult entertainment business.
This year at CES, porn production company Naughty America was on hand to give journalists a demonstration of its latest VR experience, which is compatible with not just the Oculus Rift, but also Samsung's Gear VR and the super-cheap Google Cardboard setup that works with most Android phones.
Other companies like VirtualRealPorn have been producing VR content since 2014 and offering it for a subscription fee. But the big domino of VR porn fell this week when online porn giant Pornhub launched a free VR porn channel.
Pornhub is the 67th most popular site on the entire Internet, according to Alexa's rankings, making it more visited than Craigslist or the websites for CNN and The New York Times.
VR porn is expected to be a billion dollar industry by 2025, trailing only video games and NFL-related content in the virtual reality sector.
With major investments in the technology from companies like Facebook and Google, the price of virtual reality technology coming down and the ability to use a basic smartphone to experience immersive content, porn producers clearly see an opportunity to expand their domain once again.
The history of pornography is intimately entwined with the history of technology. From VCRs to streaming video, adult entertainment has always played a role in driving innovation when it comes to the mediums we use to consume content.
Exotic dancer Danni Ashe launched a soft-core site in 1995 called Danni's Hard Drive that quickly became one of the early internet's most popular sites. According to Patchen Barss, author of "The Erotic Engine: How Pornography Has Powered Mass Communication from Gutenberg to Google," Ashe's site had a million hits in its first week and was the busiest site on the entire web for its first two years online.
The first workable streaming service was launched by Dutch porn company Red Light District even earlier, in 1994, a year before CNN's first attempt and more than half a decade before mostly failed attempts at similar technologies from larger companies like Blockbuster.
Barss argues that development and adoption of webcams and even broadband itself also owe a debt to the porn industry.
"Demand for sexual content drove the market for improved routers, switches, relays and other fundamental Internet infrastructure," Barss wrote in 2011. "Early users consistently sought faster, easier and more reliable connections through which to trade increasingly bandwidth-hogging pornographic text, photographs and video."
Now the adult entertainment industry is finally hopping on board the virtual reality bandwagon. If history is any guide, it could be the necessary dose of Viagra that will finally give the technology what it needs to go the distance.