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Virtual Reality Sex is About to Start Blowing Minds

Virtual Reality Sex is About to Start Blowing Minds:

Virtual reality has had a dramatic rise over the last several years, tugging at the heartstrings of those enamored by the pull of cutting-edge technology. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems primed to help users tug at something else in the very near future.

One of the markets poised to explode with the coming wave of VR technology is pornography. While the notion of a future involving virtual sexual experiences has been with us for more than half a century (since more or less the technology’s first imaginings), we now stand at the precipice of virtual sex breaking through to a wider market. Devices like the Oculus Rift and Valve’s Vive headset are improving at a rapid rate, and those companies’ first consumer devices are slated to reach shelves over the course of the next year. And when one looks over the edge of said precipice, it’s hard not to stagger at the ramifications: virtual porn seems at once like the pinnacle of human entertainment and its loneliest, most achingly dismal bottom rung.

As pornographic content companies scramble to figure out how to best simulate the sexual experience inside the helmet, a number of accessory makers are whipping up their own devices to accompany this wave of content. While we’re still a ways out from the 1:1, auto-reactive physical avatars for our respective unmentionables, there are a number of ways this physicality is being imagined.

THE PERFECT PARTNERSHIP

“The main purpose of our toys is to assist long distance couples,” says Eddy Olivares, founder of Lovense. The company, which was launched in New York City as an Indiegogo campaign last year, lays claim to “the world’s first sex toy that can be bi-directionally controlled over the Internet.” While not designed specifically for VR, the pairing is an exceedingly obvious one: The silicone duo of his-and-hers sex toys vibrate and shake when the paired devices, connected via phone and Mac/PC apps, are moved by their respective users. It’s the “Internet of Things That Gyrate.”

“Most [long-distance] couples embrace the technology when they learn about it, because it solves one of their major issues,” Olivares continues. “The inability to stay intimate has led to the end of many long-distance relationships.”

While it remains focused on long-distance relationship user-case scenarios, Lovense recently announced that it is working with a media company rather straightforwardly named VirtualRealityPorn to integrate its Bluetooth-enabled sex toys with the latter’s porn content, filmed on 360-degree cameras using actual porn actors and actresses. “The team at Lovense focuses on using sex tech to solve problems—we don’t want to radically change consumers behaviors,” says Olivares. “VirtualRealPorn took the development lead, so we were able to focus on our own projects.”

Since the news about its partnership, Olivares says the company has had a number of requests from gamers looking for the ultimate peripheral. “We expect our toys to be integrated with more sex games and VR content as development increases,” says Olivares. “It’s not something that we’ll focus on, but if the developers of games or other content want to integrate our toys, we are willing to provide technical support.”

NATURAL ENHANCEMENTS

“For males, there are two different types of interactive male products I see working with VR,” says Troy Peterson of NextGen Interactive. He points to products where the male acts on the device, as well as those where the male is acted upon. His company’s VStroker falls into the latter category: it attaches to a Fleshlight, and monitors the speed of the user’s strokes. Every penetration of the Fleshlight is wirelessly transmitted to the user’s computer, and simulated onscreen within the VStroker-enabled content starring real porn stars. While screen-based content is currently what’s on tap, the company is gung-ho on bringing its idea to VR.

“Adult content is actually the perfect media for VR,” Peterson says. “A ton of people get motion sickness with these devices, which make it hard to use them in games that have a lot of movement for any long period of time. Applications that have a more exploratory feel”—such as virtually exploring the surface of Mars, or virtually getting a BJ—“and [don’t] require a lot of head movement will be good for this technology.”

A number of other companies are innovating in this space, including a Japanese developer called Vorze, whose A10 Cyclone SA Connect is like a tricked-out Fleshlight that connects wirelessly to your computer or smartphone, and “moves along with your favorite videos” at seven different speed settings, depending on what’s happening onscreen. Users can even make their own movement programs, which can be shared and exchange with your friends. Combine this with VR—the company says it’s currently working hard to do exactly that—and one can imagine some awkward moments with dads walking into their son’s bedroom unannounced, only to find him wearing a VR headset on his head and a 7-Speed A10 Cyclone SA Connect on his junk. (Not to worry, though, dads, because according to Vorze’s website: “It has never been this quiet before. Feel free to use at home when your family is sleeping without any worries of waking anyone up.”)

Of course, much like virtual reality itself, these “teledildonics” have long been promised and have yet to catch on in a mainstream way. While one may argue that the technology is only now arriving in earnest, there are still plenty of cultural hurdles to overcome—the Fleshlight isn’t exactly a household name (for reasons of mass commercial success or social acceptance, at least), and it may not simply be the lack of “multiplayer controls” that have prevented its market penetration.

“I’m not exactly sure what catalyst will make the general public aware of toys like ours,” says Olivares. “The best platforms for advertisers—Facebook, Twitter, etc.—have strict policies about not promoting sex toys, which leaves us with options that aren’t cost effective.” Don’t expect teledildonic Super Bowl commercials anytime soon.

Olivares says he believes that as technology in general has become a more intimate part of people’s sex lives—as sex toys have become more commonplace over the past several years, so too have smartphone apps, mobile porn sites, and video chats to help partners connect visually—wrapping all of these experiences together would seem like the natural next step.

Peterson, for his part, isn’t so sure about the technology’s chances of breaking through to mainstream audiences. “I’m not sure it will ever be embraced, fully,” he says. “As the technology gets more immersive and more lifelike, I think questions such as ‘what is cheating?’ come into play. Soon people are going to have sex toys strapped to their penises, VR glasses on, and be ‘virtually’ in a room of a cam performer, who is giving them a virtual blowjob. It brings up a lot of interesting questions.”

That much, at least, is certain.


Evan Shamoon is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Visit his website at giantmecha.com.


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