Don’t make that face. It’s not like you didn’t see it coming, after all with each technological step forward porn has always shared the ride. Among the oldest surviving examples of erotic depictions are Paleolithic cave paintings and carvings. Prints became very popular in Europe from the middle of the fifteenth century, and because of their compact nature, were very suitable for erotic depictions that did not need to be permanently on display. An earthier eroticism is seen in a printing plate of 1475-1500 for an Allegory of Copulation where a young couple are having sex, with the woman’s legs high in the air, at one end of a bench, while at the other end a huge penis, with legs and wings and a bell tied around the bottom of the glans, is climbing onto the bench. The oldest surviving permanent photograph of the image formed in a camera was created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826, porn likely soon followed there after. Imagine what happened once film came along. Nevermind the internet. Though the Oculus Rift is still in beta, and only a handful of developers own one, virtual reality is certain to change how people enjoy porn.
We’re already seeing the first steps: a company called VirtualRealPorn has partnered with a high-tech sex toy developed called Lovense to sync sex gadgets with virtual reality. They designed and coded VR porn videos and synced them with remote controlled, bluetooth-enabled dildos and rubber vaginas. All so you can feel what you’re seeing. For instance, the Nora sex toy for females, which looks like a creepy rabbit glove, vibrates to match the speed of a male performing in the porn VR video, while a smaller arm vibrates when the two performing actors collide their bodies. Likewise, the Max vagina for men uses air pumps to contract the walls of the toy to match the speed of the female performer.
“This was an unexpected partnership, but we believe it is a positive development for Lovense,” said founder Dan Liu in a statement. “Our focus is to use sex tech products to solve problems for consumers, but when they approached us, we immediately saw the potential. They are the top virtual porn content producers, and we are a leading teledildonics [computer-controlled sex toys] company, so the partnership felt natural. We are both pioneers in our respective industries.”
That’s quite a lot of trouble just for the sake of masturbation. You need to strap a huge and quite heavy set of VR goggles, then wear some artificial mating devices. Some might feel it’s worth the effort.
“Viewing virtual porn is more work and requires more components compared to viewing regular porn,” says the Lovense founder Dan Liu for Wired. “But viewing regular porn is sometimes too much work, too. It’s not unusual for people to spend a lot of their time finding the right video and a fraction of the time actually getting off.”
Liu started his company after he had a long-distance relationship with a girlfriend in China while he was in the United Kingdom. It was tough to communicate sexually, so he began to explore options for long-distance sex. That’s how he eventually came upon the idea for Lovense’s sex toys.
To use VR porn, you’ll need to install the VirtualRealPlayer which is currently only compatible with Windows computers and the Oculus DK1 and DK2 headsets. But developers are working on apps for iOS and Android. So far, VirtualRealPorn only made 32 synched videos with an 180 degree field of vision, but it plans on releasing at least one VR coded video per month. It will likely scale with demand and once they’ll find a way to use algorithms that automate the process.
“[We] code all the motions for the toy in each video and integrate them with our video player,” says VirtualRealPorn co-founder Leonor Laplaza. “We’re looking for ways to automate the integration, but for now it’s all done manually.”
The Nora and Max are already pretty high-tech as it is. The original offerings are synced to work with each other via Skype or a mobile app, geared towards long-distance partners. In fact, there’s even a mod that syncs their throbs and pulses to music.
“The goal was to create an experience that felt completely immersive,” says VirtualRealPorn’s Laplaza. “We dream that teledildonics will enable users to not have to interact at all—or that any of their interaction is reflected in the content.”
But what’s the ultimate technology-driven porn? One can imagine an electroencephalogram that reads brain activity then directs pulses of electricity in key areas of the brain so they fire in a specific pattern. This would trigger a dream like state, effectively immersing you and a partner or just yourself if you want to fly solo in a fantasy land… all in your brain. But I’ll leave that to the field of teledildonics to elaborate.