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What's the future of virtual sex?

        Health | Sexuality

Virtual Sexuality Takes Shape
How can we connect carnally with an immaterial world?
How can we connect carnally with an immaterial world?
Anthony Saint James/Riser/Getty Images

The future is bright for virtual sexuality. After all, we're human beings. Think of any great artistic or technological achievement and chances are it winds up in our pants at some point. Poetry gave us pornography, the telephone gave us sex hotlines and vulcanization gave us the modern condom. It's just part of who we are.

Today, more than 2.1 billion people surf the World Wide Web [source: CIA World Factbook]. Internet pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry and although an exact count of Web sites is difficult to formulate, we do know that at least one hardworking web-filtering service (CYBERsitter) currently blocks more than 2.5 million porn sites [source: Ruvolo].

Roughly speaking, you can divide all of our sexual uses of technology into two categories:

  1. Sexual communication with another person (sexting, sex chat rooms and webcam cybersex)
  2. Sexual interaction with a simulation (interactive sex video games)

All of it is essentially computer-mediated communication, so while you won't find companies such as Microsoft pondering the best way to touch a woman's breast in a video game, the company's Xbox 360 Kinect motion controller was barely out a month before independent developers unveiled a demo for an erotic simulation based on the Kinect's open-source software [source: Terdiman].

Human telecommunication began with the mere transmission of words and ideas via the telegraph. We quickly moved on to sending sounds and sights. Today, the industry continues to work toward the seamless transmission of our entire sensory experience.


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