Alright, get your giggles out of the way. We’re about to talk about something taboo…
Yes, objects that a person might use to mimic the act of having sexual intercourse with another person. There are so many great things that the world of technology has been able to bring us over the last 100 years, and this… surprisingly is one. Let’s jump right in:
This may be a silly place to start, but when we’re talking about virtual sex, we’re going to have to start with porn. I mean, it’s sex that you participate in (albeit by yourself) that you’re not physically a part of.
Porn today is a $97 billion industry – I keep repeating that number over and over again, it blows my mind every single time. But the world’s fascination with sex isn’t recent, it goes back a long way – think of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Greek and Roman depictions and even Venus of Willendorf. Researchers pulled ancient erotica out of the remains of brothels and bathhouses in Pompeii.
Porn in The 1500s!?
Dating as far back as 1524, about 80 years after the Gutenberg Press was created, authors were printing the first books of erotica. The authorities were arresting authors and publishers because of their “lewd content”, but it didn’t stop the others. And, it’s believed that the first pornographic photograph was taken as far back as 1846 – it was called a daguerreotype, and was considered an early version of the photograph. In 1857, just eleven years later, the English language officially introduced the word “pornography.” At the time, it meant “writing about prostitutes”, but nonetheless there we were.
1896 was a big year, as we introduced film! Thomas Edison released the movie “The Kiss”, which featured exactly that. Not much to look at these days, but back then, it stirred up quite the controversy. I mean, who possibly could want to see a kiss on screen? How could he?
In the early 1900s, we started to see “stag films.” These were a little raunchier than a kiss and were shown at male-dominated gatherings. Researchers at the Kinsey Institute believe that over 2000 “stag films” were created by the time 1968 rolled around. In 1951, the US government introduced the X-rating and in 1953, the legendary Mr. Hugh Hefner created Playboy Magazine.
(While we’re on the topic of Playboy, I came across a quote by staff writer, Damon Brown, that kinda sets the mood for this whole article, “If we invent a machine, the first thing we are going to do—after making a profit—is use it to watch porn.”)
1966 brought us Lasse Braun – a bit of a legend in the porn industry. Known professionally as AGF, he created many short silent sex films and distributed them underground. At the time, porn was still a big question mark in the legal system, considered not protected by free speech. Braun had many criminal cases against him as publisher, producer and distributor of “obscene” material, or “material against the common morality.” But then came along Braun’s business partner, Reuben Sturman. With the porn industry being so volatile in the American market (Denmark was the first country to legalize it in 1966), Sturman created “Peep Show Booths.” Users could go up to a booth (armed with tissue boxes, of course), pop in a quarter and watch a continuous loop of these silent films. When their money ran out, they could either leave the booth, or pop in more money. In just 3 short years in the early 70s, it’s believed that Sturman had installed 60,000 booths throughout the US and Canada.
The Infamous 70s Porn
The timing was right, because in the 70s, the courts decided to loosen up their belts (that was a gross cliché, no?) on the word “obscene.” This dropped a lot of cases that were pending in the adult industry. And thus, “the Golden Age of Porn” was created. Stars like Ron Jeremy, Nina Hartley, and Peter North came on the scene giving us some of the classic adult films that some people still watch today.
In 1976, JVC released the first VCRs. At the time, fewer than 1% of households had one, but 75% of VHS tapes sold were pornographic. That number is staggering! Or is it? The ability to customize a porn experience by fast forwarding, rewinding and pausing in the comfort of someone’s own home changed everything. We take it for granted today with the way we consume videos, but in the 70s, this was a real thing!
In 1991, when we got the internet, the world was ready. The first porn website was launched by 1994. And in 2012, Xvideos became the largest porn site in the world with close to 4.4 billion views EACH MONTH. It was close to three times the size of CNN or ESPN.
And that’s where we are today with porn. Let’s take a good long look at some of the crazy pieces of technology people have to um, aide them in their sexual journeys. If you want to check out even more about the history of porn, check out this page, here.
It was a matter of time before haptic technology was used for porn. (Do I need to share that Damon Brown quote again?) Haptic technology is the technology behind touch simulation. Again, even to me, porn was a logical thought here. So let’s just jump in, shall we? I did a lot of my initial VR research here.
No, I didn’t make this word up. It’s technology that allows users to use, um, toys with others from any distance so long as there is internet access. Now, the interesting part is that the other person doesn’t have to be a “person” – it can simply be an avatar from the user’s favourite adult website. And here we come, full circle back to porn again.
One company I came across in my travels is called Kiiroo. They’re from the Netherlands, and they make really interesting gadgets called the OPue for ladies, and the SVir for the gents. Allow me to explain: the ladies use the OPue as a regular vibrator by inserting in themselves as they normally would. The man then inserts his penis into the SVir, and the gadget contracts and releases around his member to mimic what is happening to the OPue on the other end. Users can use this with a partner they know, or one they do not – by syncing to adult websites. It could be interesting technology for some of those long distance relationships, perhaps.
While we’re talking about teledildonics, let’s also talk about a service that recently launched from a CamSoda called Blowcast. Let’s just call it the iTunes of oral sex. Essentially, all you need is a teledildonic and an account. You log on, choose a “partner” and they will perform oral sex on their device and you feel it at home… or wherever it is you may be. Let’s just leave this here…
And PornHub Got Into the Action…. er…
PornHub, themselves have released an intuitive device called the Twerking Butt. It’s pretty much what it sounds like, it’s a butt. It syncs with music or videos and twerks. And it uses “Cyber-Skin Technology” to feel life-like. It came after years of research and mimicking the near-perfect butts of many women. The butt stays a constant 98.6 degrees to keep it feeling as life-like as possible. You can load your own music to watch the butt twerk to the beat. The Twerking Butt doesn’t come cheap though, the Classic will set you back $600, while the Deluxe goes up to $900. Wow…
The Teslasuit (no relation to Tesla Motors) is a full body suit that is said to complement the virtual reality that users are currently experiencing in VR headsets. In a research piece done by the New Atlas, it says “it relies on neuro-muscular electrical stimulation technology also used in medicine, electrotherapy and professional sports to offer both tactile stimulation and temperature control.” There are 52 channels to stimulate different sensations on the user’s skin. The Teslasuit can be worn just like normal clothing, is very lightweight , and is already compatible with other headsets like the Oculus Rift. Reports say the suit is so sensitive it’s able to mimic the sensations of human touch, a warm summer breeze, water submersion and even a bullet. It’s completely wireless too, making it able to be worn, well… wherever. While not designed for this purpose, imagine the sexual possibilities of a suit like this. Two people far away from each other can each be wearing a suit and well… you know the rest. They are still designing the Teslasuit, and early signs are saying that it’ll cost around $1800.
The Future of Sex
Where are we going in the future of sex? Well, robots, of course.
There was Roxxxy, of course. “She” was 5’7”, weight 120 lbs and could sense your touch, speak to you and learn what you liked. Roxxxy, the $7000 doll, received close to 4000 pre-orders, when she was revealed at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in 2010. TrueCompanion, the developer based out of New Jersey, spent upwards of $1million developing Roxxxy, according to reports. Users can even customize her to their preferences – hair colour, eye colour, even breast size. But those customizations will definitely cost them, Roxxxy can go up to $9000!
We know the industry is booming. Why? Because there’s a lobby group against sex robots called, aptly, The Campaign Against Sex Robots. They believe sexbots should be outlawed, and provide a detailed list. Topping their list are:
- We believe the development of sex robots further sexually objectifies women and children.
- The vision for sex robots is underscored by reference to prostitute-john exchange which relies on recognizing only the needs and wants of the buyers of sex, the sellers of sex are not attributed subjectivity and reduced to a thing (just like the robot).
- The development of sex robots and the ideas to support their production show the immense horrors still present in the world of prostitution which is built on the “perceived” inferiority of women and children and therefore justifies their use as sex objects.
How is the dating world going to change in the next few years? Virtual dates! You could use your VR headset (or suit, if you so wish) to go on a date with someone who may be on the other side of the pond. And beyond knowing in your own mind that you’re not physically with them in a room, there’s not much else that’s different from being on a real physical date. There’s nothing stopping people from having long-term relationships completely on VR. People have changed their minds drastically about online dating! eHarmony, Match.com and PlentyofFish, and other dating websites were taboo to many people, just 10 years ago.
I’d say the technology is there, we just have to wait for it to become more commonplace so that the prices can come down. It’s inevitable. The sex industry will always be booming.
Good luck, friends!