A few weeks ago, at an adult film conference in Los Angeles, the showpiece was a ‘Tits & Glass’ video. It featured two porn stars wearing Google Glass as they performed and recorded their act simultaneously. They could also share each other’s perspectives while they did it. As you know, Google Glass enables a two-way point of view: so you get to see your partner as well as what your partner is seeing.
The experimental sex video was part of a Tits & Glass app developed by Mikandi, an adult app store for Android phones. The app allows Google Glass owners to share racy content recorded on their devices directly with other Glass users, as well as online at TitsAndGlass.com, where they can browse, comment and vote on their favourite content.
After the launch of Tits & Glass, Google hastily updated its policy to prohibit porn on Glass – but Mikandi found a way around it. Now Tits & Glass only sends SFW (Safe For Work) content directly on Glass, while the NSFW stuff can still be posted on the TitsAndGlass site. Trying to block Internet porn has been a lost cause for so long now that it seems inevitable that other Glass-like devices will soon arrive which will have no restrictions on porn. Still, in the short term, an adult company has to jump through hoops just to get its products and services to users, which also makes them more innovative as a necessity.
The sex appeal of tech
Whatever one’s misgivings, the reality is that the porn industry has been at the forefront of digital innovation and tech adoption. Online payments to live video chat, broadband adoption to 3G rollout got a boost from users of porn. After all, one out of five males watches porn on the internet and 12% of all websites are connected with adult content. So it’s a no-brainer that futuristic technologies like virtual reality, 3D modelling, and transmission of smell, touch and taste over the Internet too will have a sex appeal, whether we like it or not.
The Tits & Glass developer Mikandi has been pushing the envelope not just with Google Glass, but as an aggregator of mobile sex apps. It’s a third party app store that allows any developer to post an adult app for the Android platform. Mikandi claims to curate the best apps, so that somebody looking for porn on the Web doesn’t have to wade through muck and spam.
Currently the Mikandi App Store, which can be freely downloaded, has 4.5 million registered users (probably a small fraction of the actual number of users, because registration is optional) and hosts over 10,000 adult apps. There is also a Mikandi Mint List for Chrome, featuring the “best of the adult web”. Mikandi co-founder Jennifer McEwen, who has a digital marketing background, “wanted to do something with sex and tech”, which is how the Seattle-based startup was born.
Learning to apply wearable tech to sex
Jennifer dreams of building Mikandi into a “world-renowned next-generation adult company”. Her newest fascination is with Google Glass, and it’s not only because of its suitabilty for shooting sex videos. She likes to play around with tech, and found it hard to understand why people were so judgemental when she wore her Glass in public.
“I’ve been called a dork, a cock, and a Glasshole in conversation by total strangers. To be fair, Glass does look kind of dorky. But honestly, ridiculing a stranger on what they choose to wear, accepting your ignorance on a device you’ve never tried and never want to try, expecting others to share your displeasure, and judging those that don’t? Yeah, I’m the Glasshole.”
She for one is convinced that wearable devices will be transformative for sex and many other domains. “Whether or not Glass stands the test of time, there’s no doubt wearable devices are a brave new world. There is going to be a learning curve from the community on how to apply this new technology and how to interact with it. History has taught us that things will work out in the end. So can’t we all just get along?”
Building a next generation adult company
Jennifer says Mikandi was “one of those great ideas that happened at the perfect time”. Prior to Mikandi, the adult industry was largely shut out of the mobile revolution and smartphone apps. Apple does not allow adult apps on their app store and Google Play Store too restricts hardcore apps. So Mikandi came up with a third party store.
There was a hitch, though. Nobody was developing adult apps simply because the mainstream app stores would not let them in. There was only one app on Mikandi when it launched. Jennifer says “it was kind of a chicken and egg sort of thing”, but Android developers soon jumped at the idea of an adult app store. After all, in the first month alone, Mikandi had 80,000 downloads.
Initially all the apps were free, because accepting payments – especially when you’re dealing with a large number of nano transactions – was difficult; Paypal etc wouldn’t allow adult companies to use their services. Mikandi eventually came up with a virtual currency, and today there are paid apps too.
Once Mikandi was out there, it wasn’t hard to sell because everyone wanted it – the adult studios, the adult content users, and the adult app developers. Word of mouth played a big part too, none bigger than Uncle Steve, as Steve Jobs is fondly referred to at Mikandi. When Steve Jobs, in one of his tirades against censorship, said “there’s a porn store for Android”, it got Mikandi 10,000 downloads in half a day, purrs Jennifer.