The work week is finally over and you have some vacation time saved up. Why not go on a vacation with a loved one? People say that Paris is nice this time of year, or maybe Barbados. How about Bermuda?
Once you have decided your vacation destination, it’s time to book a ticket and pack. Fun.
As you relax on a giant yacht, the ocean spray hits your face. All your worries begin to fade away and only mimosas and tropical drinks are on your mind. This is the life.
You look to the left and admire your companion. They’re tall, blonde and have all the features of a Rihanna or David Beckham.
They smile and reach their arm out to rub your chest and then a giant rotating circle appears.
10, 20, 30, 70 per cent…
You sigh and wonder why your roommates always download their torrents when you’re trying to relax…
It’s no secret humans enjoy sex. Having sex or just simply watching it, – we can’t get enough. The United States remains top dog in porn distribution and culture, generating $12 billion in 2015.
In Canada, a start-up company called Holodexxx is trying to re-imagine how people interact on a digital level. Right now, they create rendered versions of popular adult stars for consumers to buy. The customers are then allowed to do whatever they want.
The process of creating the versions requires 112 photographs. To take these pictures the model must stand in the middle of what is called a photogrammetry rig. (Essentially, it’s a giant auditorium of robotic eyes). The cameras that engulf the model leave no crevice unexplored. The photographs are then stitched together by a program to create a high resolution avatar. After that, the avatar is run through a character rigging pipeline. All this is completed with the help of the popular Unreal gaming engine.
While the website boasts an impressive lineup of popular actors and actresses, is that enough to get consumers hooked?
“Virtual reality won’t be much of a burden, but it will be a double edged sword. Like junk food or anything that’s only okay in moderation,” says Lisa Pont, a social worker and addictions therapist that deals with technology and pornography over consumption.
“It’s been noted that teen boys and girls are noticing intimacy, relationship and even body issues from their porn use and consumption. They think that everything needs to be or look a certain way and it’s from watching these videos,” says Pont.
Canada has ranked fourth in PornHub’s top 20 countries and third in the page visits per capita with 165 people visiting the site hourly for 2015.
“It’s common to see people with both pornography and video game addiction problems,” says Pont.
Prostitution in Canada is a very grey area. It is legal to sell sexual services but illegal to buy them … this is an attempt to keep the workers safe.
“Jaws” , an ex-sex worker with a bad ass pen name, stopped and offered some insight regarding a view on how VR (virtual reality) will play in prostitution and even the adult industry.
“Obviously the sex industry will definitely be affected by VR. In the end it is neither positive nor negative, just how the internet revolutionized the pornographic world and people stopped going to porno theatres. Leaving home for pleasure is more or less a dead venue,” he says.
“VR won’t affect sex workers. Unless VR can reach out and touch you or make you feel special. It goes the same for stripping and burlesque. A live experience is always better than virtual, that’s why they’re still alive today.”
The same sentiments regarding the importance of contact and company were echoed by Rebecca Hethrington, who works front reception and administration at For Your Eyes Only on King Street.
When I walked in, there was nobody there but the employees. A place that is normally lit up and filled with bodies and laughter was now empty, quiet and lonely. This was the first time I would experience what venues would seem like if everybody just tuned in and tuned out.
While my team was busy snapping away at our model, freezing movement on the pole and stage, I asked Hethrington how intimacy and connection were what helped clubs like this thrive.
“We’re a no contact club which is interesting. In that sense you wouldn’t be losing anything because we don’t want anyone getting groped or fondled, but you’re still losing the idea of having a real person.”
Companies in the early 2000’s already tried this with a downloadable program called Virtual Girl. It was essentially a stripper avatar for one’s desktop. Once started, a tiny woman would dance around on the desktop right above the time. She would gyrate and swivel but the novelty wore off very quickly.
“Everyone already goes home and hangs out alone and it creates a different environment. If you can’t talk to the avatar then it eliminates everything. Some people don’t even come for dances. They’ll get drinks and chat with the girls,” Hethrington said.
One thing to pull from this is without actual physicality, getting turned on feels like a dead experience. Imagine having a room to yourself with the cute person you saw in the computer lab. You plug in and fulfill every fantasy and satisfy the burning craving for this person, but you still don’t know how they smell or taste and most importantly: feel.
This doesn’t mean that sex toys aren’t evolving to help curve the robotic feeling of virtual sex. Now they heat up and mimic your partner’s contractions, but they still feel rubbery. So sex and love become a grey area. Mentally, the highs and lows associated with love will be felt but some biological functions may not even be triggered. Functions that may be outdated are biologically ingrained to help us find partners.
A quick Google search shows that the Internet is filled with specialty dating sites. From dating with Asperger’s, or specific religions to even specific fetishes, there are services available.
Besides the sites, dating games are popping up as well. Think Habbo Hotel except you can now seduce your neighbor wearing the red reindeer nose.
“It may not revolutionize the dating world but I think it will create a niche market,” says Laura Bilotta, a matchmaker and event planner from Toronto. “For those who may be too old or afraid to go out and meet people, it will give them a way to form relationships . . . It will be like a phone call, but since some people find calling hard to do, this may take pressure off.”
Bilotta says it’s a given that the slight shift into the VR dimension will be beneficial. Education will be revolutionized. Hell, even checking an email will feel like a lively experience. All these headsets, businesses and artists alike are pushing for and salivating over a Virtual Reality revolution. While we are busy figuring out how to wire these machines, we ignore how our squishy brains are wired and what exactly they can handle.
It’s important to tread cautiously, and think about the the human species; no matter how tough we like to imagine ourselves, we can be frail at times.