Is Virtual Sex Destined to Become Your New BFF?
There is never a dull moment in the sex-nology industry. If you don’t like what you see (or feel), just wait a few months and someone will invent a gadget or program to suit your every sexual taste and desire.
In addition to their sex-partner-seeking, geo-location abilities, smart phones are among the latest gadgets revolutionizing the rapidly evolving world of virtual sexuality. Just as video sales in the 80s, cable and satellite TV in the 90s, and Internet growth over the past decade have been in part fueled by porn, the sex industry is now actively involved in smart phone-based virtual sex!
Electronic hardware and software companies are also working together to evolve virtual male sex toys, some of which were shown at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Without doubt there is a highly charged technological race toward making virtual sex more like the real deal – then finding the best way to market, sell and profit from what can be considered an entirely new world of “personal products.”
Sex Felt Around the World
RealTouch has made a men’s masturbation device that synchronizes in real time with online porn as it is being viewed. The device itself is a faux-flesh orifice that connects to your computer. Working in tandem with the activities taking place in the given porn film, the device warms itself up, lubricates, pulses and grips.
This process can also be engaged with a live person on the other end of the connection (could be a long distance loved one, a favorite porn actor or a “webcam performer”), who at their end stimulates a sensor-covered rod that transmits live signals back to the RealTouch. Stated overtly, people can now give and receive virtual hand-jobs via the Internet, while also using this technology to both visually AND physically experience porn as it is being viewed.
Other companies are getting in on the virtual sex trend. Last fall saw the release of Mojowijo, an adult stimulation device that attaches to a Nintendo Wii remote control and can be used anywhere in the world. Using a Bluetooth-enabled PC, special software and Skype, the motions of one device are transmitted as vibrations to another paired device. Competitors offer similar “toys” that can pulsate to the rhythm of the user’s favorite music.
In response to consumer demand, rudimentary virtual sex toys that have been around for years are today getting new features. Inventors are reportedly working to create an iPad equipped with a Fleshlight holding case, placed strategically underneath the pad so users can get off hands-free while watching porn. Fleshlight, marketed as the “#1 selling male sex toy,” mimics the sensation of a mouth, vulva or anus using “real feel superskin.”
The future is equally exciting in the world of virtual sex gamers. One company, ThriXXX, is making its 3D sex games compatible with the Xbox Kinect so users can “touch” the models in the game. Virtual sex games, including interactive websites and video games like Second Life, translate anonymous online animated sexcapades into “virtual life” with 3D graphics and customized fantasy avatars.
While most sites are designed toward selling to the male heterosexual market, there are also similar sites for straight women, gay men and women, and those with a variety of fetishes. Some games allow users to essentially produce their own porn – erotic scenarios, camera angles, musical score, body parts, you name it.
Checking In or Out?
Hotels are also trying to cash in on the business of virtual sex. So long pay-per-view hotel-room porn! Budget hotel chain Travelodge announced last year that its hotels of the future will offer digital sex along with that free breakfast. According to engineer and futurologist Ian Pearson, by 2030, people will be able to wear lenses to change the way their partner looks while making love (without their knowledge). Clients will be able to beam their virtual partners into bed while making love remotely. Hotel sheets and sleepwear are being designed with special fibers that produce sensory responses, allowing clients to “feel” the sensations of sex.
Today, anyone with a live Internet connection has easier access to more overt sexual content and sexual experiences than ever before. Is virtual sex a set-up for angry spouses, relationship avoidance and intimacy-deprived Internet widows, or is it all just good fun?
As many of the “virtual sex” providers have recognized, these devices can be a relationship-saver for couples with blah marriages, long-distance relationships or those who spend long work stretches away from home and those they love. Virtual sex also allows people to explore sex with multiple partners without the risk of contracting an STD or the complication of an unwanted relationship or pregnancy.
Internet porn, adultery websites and smartphone apps are most certainly changing the standards for dating, courtship and even our most simple definitions of relationship fidelity. Similarly, the easy accessibility and novelty offered by virtual sex may soon begin to compromise relationship intimacy for some, as it makes finding and engaging in sexual acts with strangers easier to find –and act out.
Like online pornography, sexting and smartphone “friend finder” apps, the concept of virtual sexuality is not inherently “bad.” Problems do show up, however, when those individuals already challenged by intimacy disorders, past trauma, addiction and impulsivity get hold of these tech-driven, novel sexual devices and end up with sexual problems that interfere with their daily lives, goals, values and relationships.
As these virtual sex-nologies become more realistic and accessible, some will surely find themselves struggling with compulsive and addictive urges to sexually act out in virtual reality, which for some can lead to reduced social interaction, problems with intimate sexuality, and love, relationship and sexual addiction in the real world.
Robert Weiss is the author of three books on sexual addiction and Founding Director of the premiere sex addiction treatment program, The Sexual Recovery Institute. He is Director of Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch and Promises Treatment Centers. These centers serve individuals seeking sexual addiction treatment, love addiction treatment, and porn addiction help. Specifically, the Centers for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch (CRSR) offer specialized intimacy, sex and relationship addiction treatment for both men and women in gender-specific, gender-separate treatment and living environments.
Follow Robert on Twitter @RobWeissMSW
Man with smart phone photo available from Shutterstock.
Weiss LCSW, R. (2012). Is Virtual Sex Destined to Become Your New BFF?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/02/is-virtual-sex-destined-to-become-your-new-bff/