Ever since a particularly randy caveman decided to daub a picture of boobs on his cave wall, porn has been at the forefront of technology. Pornography famously decided the outcome of the “format wars” in the 1980s, with VHS trumping over Beta, while it was also instrumental in developing e-commerce, video streaming, webcams, broadband internet and cable television.
But it’s not just limited to modern inventions, back in the 1800s the Stanhope microphotography system (which is now universally used in libraries to archive periodicals) was originally developed for creating risqué and saucy pictures for the discerning Dickensian gentlemen.
Today, it is no different, and pornography could be at the forefront of the growing virtual reality scene. Recently, DailyDot’s Rae Votta got to try out the new Oculus Rift virtual sex program, and although it still seems like the technology has a long way to go, it didn’t seem quite as nightmarish as the virtual sex shown in Demolition Man.
Votta was provided a demonstration of a virtual sex show, created by RedLightCenter, at a recent sex and technology conference in Los Angeles. According to RedLightCenter, the aim is to create a fully immersive X-rated experience on the Oculus Rift. This is how Votta described it:
As soon as I enter the strip club, I’m surrounded by dancing women and men sitting beside me, doling out bills for lap dances. Next, I’m transported into an orgy, where people are having sex all around me on a sun-dappled roof deck. I almost gasp when I turn my head to see a couple going at it, thrusting just a few inches away from my head.
From what I can see, it kind of looks a lot more like someone built a particularly sleazy house in The Sims, but according to Brian Shuster, the CEO of RedLightCenter, this could be the future of pornography and maybe even human sexual relations. He explained:
People naturally come together and want to interact, and we can provide them more life-like experiences. The general reaction is mind-blowing. … There’s hours of motion-capture hardcore sex, lap dancing, pole dancing, swimming and walking. Everything.
Making Pornography Interactive
However, porn entrepreneurs aren’t satisfied just shoving you into a virtual bordello, they also want you to get involved in the action. Shuster believes the combination of his technology with interactive, internet connected sex toys is where the future is really heading.
Another – rather similarly named – sex industry frontrunner, Brian Shuben, is working on bridging the gap between passive titillation and active participation. Shuben claims his toy company has developed a new piece of tech to communicate with what has been described as “Rolls-Royce of fuck machines”: The ShockSpot. And that’s not just a comparison of quality – the ShockSpot does look like actually its got a V12 engine.
Shuben’s device, the VSTROKER, attaches to a FleshLight and monitors the users movements, wirelessly transmitting them to the computer and then forwarding them to the ShockSpot possessing person on the other end of the screen – for a fee, of course. Shuben claims the product could help revitalize the now massive ‘sex cam’ industry.
We have a new kind of consumer, the cam consumer. We may have even lost that consumer at one point, but with interactive products we have the ability to get them back.
However, this technology is all one way, and the star on the other end cannot send pleasure back to the viewer. So, that’s where Kiiroo comes in.
These guys are a teledildonics (so, I’ve learned a new word today) company which specializes in developing sex toys for couples in long-distance relationships. Their new dildo, the Pearl, can be connected wirelessly to a Fleshlight-like device called the Onyx. This contains 10 rings which expand and contract in accordance to the pressure applied to the Pearl. It’s kind of like a Nintendo Wii, if you replaced one of the Wii remotes with a massive plastic schlong.
Currently, the Kiiroo system also only works one way, with the Pearl only providing feedback to the Onyx and not vice versa, which, let’s face it, isn’t helping the whole ‘men are selfish lovers’ stereotype. However, plans are afoot to allow Onyx users to control the vibrations of the Pearl, making it much more mutually enjoyable.
The Pearl and Onyx released in February, with Kiiroo boasting thousands of pre-orders before it was even demoed. Those who have actually tried it have often given ambiguous reviews. Votta described the sensation as ‘promising,’ while one tester in a Vice video claimed:
It doesn’t feel like sex, and it doesn’t feel like wanking either—it’s totally different.
For any confused Americans out there, ‘wanking’ is a delightfully versatile British term for a five-knuckle shuffle. Y’know, masturbating.
The Sexual Singularity
Of course, the real sexy achievement will be the combination of these teledildonics with virtual headsets like the Oculus Rift. Things are still very much in the prototype phase, but Shuster is convinced these meagre early successes will pave the way for a full virtualization of sex.
Integration with Kiiroo and Fleshlight is ideal. What we’re seeing now with haptics is the very, very first generation, because there’s hasn’t really been a platform to use this. When you’re using virtual reality, you’re not seeing the haptics devices, so they can look like real body parts. That’s much more appealing. Once that happens, there will be revenue-positive feedback, and that will justify huge reinvestment in next generation technology.
But this isn’t just limited to full-blown sexual intercourse, Shuster believes the future could see this technology applied to all aspects of physical relationships, even the slightly subtler ones.
Where I envision haptics technology in the next five to 10 years, it’s not just genital simulation. It would be nice to hold hands, to hug, to be able to make out a little bit. When you think about doing that with a device, the whole idea is kind of unappealing. But if you imagine fifth generation from now, [where] every little sense is transmitted [and] you’re seeing your partner, I think it’s going to become more appealing… We’re at the very beginnings. I’d compare a Kiiroo right now to a calculator to a smart phone. And I’m looking forward to when the smartphones are like [the] iPhone 6.
Currently, both Kiiroo and RedLightCenter are working on an Oculus Rift API to allow interaction with the virtual space, while Shuster also claims the companies are working closely together.
This technology clearly has useful applications for certain individuals, especially those in long distance relationships, while Greg Clayman of Flirt4Free.com believes it can also be incredibly useful for military wives and husbands, as well as individuals who want to explore their sexuality in a more private environment.
However, will this ever actually replace traditional sex as envisioned inDemolition Man? Personally, I’m dubious, although I do think this kind of thing could become incredibly commonplace – and lucrative – in the future. Despite this, I think it will never quite get the exact experience right, since there are just too many subtle factors to take into account. After all, sex is a bit more than just clattering your nether-regions together, don’t you think?
Source: Movie Pilot