Monday, May 5, 2014

Sex 102: Making Love with Your Computer, and Possibly Someone in Russia.

In my last post I questioned what “real” sex is. What sorts of things count, and sorts of things do not? Different people = different opinions. Of course, given that people are so varied on what does and does not fit the bill for sex, it only makes sense for humans to go about complicating the issue further.

With robotics.

Last fall, Tenga, a Japanese manufacturer that has specialized in disposable male masturbatory aids, has paired up with the game designers at Illusion to use the Oculus Rift (virtual reality goggles) and the haptic device Novint Falcon, which was utilized in first person shooter game controllers to make them respond to virtual gunfire, and created a video game you can have sex with. See the video below (I promise, no “real” people are nude or getting it on with the game. They were at a conference full of for goodness sake. That being said, it's probably not the best video to watch with your mother…)

So there we have it: Virtual Reality Sex.

The CEO of Tenga, Tsenuki Sato, even went so far as to claim that " the future, the virtual real will become more real than actual real sex" (Merchant, 2014).

But wait, weren't we just questioning what sex is? you might be asking. Why yes, yes we were, and therein lay the problem.

If one cannot define sex, or more so, cannot define a complete list of specific acts that can universally be accepted as sex, then how would one go about proving that sex with a tube held by a robot arm is not “real” sex?  Even with this idea of “real sex” floating around, we still have to divvy it up into classifications: Sexual Intercourse, Sexual Activity, Penetrative Sex, Non-Penetrative Sex,, etc… “Real” sex cannot be held to one category. Of course we could take the cheap route and say that because there is only one person involved, it cannot be classified as sex.

But wait, what’s that? That might not always be the case? Why thank you, internet, for that wonderful tidbit of information.

As it turns out, Ted Nelson — a well-known pioneer in information technology, philosopher, and sociologist who coined the word “hypertext”  —  created the term “Teledildonics.” Stay with me.

Teledildonics, or cyberdildonics, are electronic sex toys that can be controlled by someone’s computer, and now they could even be controlled by someone’s Xbox or even Bluetooth. This may not sound so radical (or maybe it does to you, I don’t know what you've got going on), but I did not say that the computer that controls it needs be the one belonging to its user.

As shown by the image above — belonging to LovePals, a company that has literally "made an app for that"  Teledildonics can be controlled by remote access. This means that if someone owns a teledildonic toy in Russia and wants to get groiny with someone in Vermont, they could give that person remote access to their teledildonic toy and have at it. Two people are involved (and if they so desired, even more than two people could be involved) and they are performing sexual acts, so why question whether or not this is “real” sex?

Perhaps it is not considered to be “real” now, but I certainly think that it will be. People are supplementing social interaction with various forms of technology and media already (Facebook, FetLife, W.O.W, Eve Online, Second Life, etc…) so why not move sex onto the World Wide Web, too? It could easily be considered a far superior form of sexual activity. Here are a few reasons why:

1.      There is no risk of STDs or STIs, provided someone does not share their devices with others.

2.      They do not have to risk being assaulted because if they become uncomfortable, they can just unplug the device or turn off their computer.

3.      There will be fewer sexual insecurities regarding body shape and size because each person will have already picked out their own devices, so the size is whatever they decide suits them. Plus,

4.      if Tenga’s new creation catches on, they could easily include the Virtual Reality goggles and Illusion’s programming to make it seem like they are interacting with someone they find to be physically ideal.

 This may someday be considered the new, improved, simulative and superior form of sex. What would there be to miss when all of one’s ideals are only a click and type away?


  1. First of all, I think teledildonics sound awesome and the reasons you suggest that they might be a superior form of sex are so thought-provoking. Awesome, intriguing post!

    A couple things I thought of while reading this... You said, "The CEO of Tenga, Tsenuki Sato, even went so far as to claim that ' the future, the virtual real will become more real than actual real sex'." I think that that is already true in some cases. Women are advised not to become too dependent on their vibrators because it could make having an orgasm with a real person that much more difficult. So in many ways masturbation has become more real than actual real sex... what would keep virtual sex from becoming more real?

    Also, can we think of sex as two separate things - the physical release/orgasm/pleasure vs. the emotional experience - or do they go hand in hand?

  2. Honestly, this reminds me of that sex scene in The Demolition Man, where the female cop and John Spartan are going to have sex, but instead of actually having sex. They merely put on virtual reality things. They don't even use any peripherals, because they were considered icky. So, here's my question. How minimal can a culture while down sex, before the mere thought of sex is sex itself. No matter if it's alone or with two people or if any fluids or anything happens with the sexual organs.
    These new technologies, while seeming to be nothing more than aiding couples in long distant relationships, may actually transform the idea of sex, and what it may be in the future

  3. This reminded me of the movie Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock. It wasn't a terribly popular movie, so for those of you who don't know what it is it goes a little something like this: Stallone was a cop in the 20th century, but is frozen then thawed out in the future to help defeat an underground gang of bandits. He meets Sandra Bullock, a current cop, and in one scene they begin to have sex. Stallone is mortified when he realizes that sex has changed, and now the intimate activity occurs by putting on a virtual reality helmet to trick your brain into thinking you are having sex with the other person. This has come into being in order to stop unwanted pregnancies and the transfer of STDs.
    If your senses believe you are having sex with another person whose senses also believe the act is taking place, are you really having sex?

  4. Well then, I suppose that begs the question "Do our bodies matter in forming realities?" If our bodies are no longer involved in any way other than the "senses", then what is to say it is not sex?

    There is a woman who work with breath and energy orgasm, "Thinking Off" it was called on the TV show Strange Sex. Basically, people are bale to focus their breath in such a ways that they can achieve orgasm. There are even fewer senses involved there, so can that be a kind of sex? Do we really even need our bodies in order to have sex? Are we, as humans, really so limited as this?

    I have no idea.


    Barbara Carrellas is the woman's name. It is incredibly interesting how she has developed this. She did it as a way for people to enjoy sex without risking STDs. Pretty neat, and probably worth trying out.


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