With all the recent advances in user interfaces and head-mounted displays, there's little reason virtual sex can't offer a truly 21st century, nearly realistic experience.
That's the sentiment behind VRSexKit.com, a set of sex simulators in the works from ThriXXX, a company that has been a leader in adapting technologies like Microsoft's Kinect for virtual-reality sex play.
Though ThriXXX was quick to figure out how to use the Kinect in virtual sex, founder Brad Abram now believes Microsoft's motion-control camera system doesn't offer a "granular enough" experience.
With the VRSexKit (Warning: link goes to NSFW site), ThriXXX has strung together what it thinks is a set of tools that can satisfy those in search of more titillating VR fun.
Aiming for the most off-the-shelf configuration of tools possible, ThriXXX believes it should be possible for almost anyone to have a highly satisfying solo sexual encounter (though its demos seem to be geared mainly toward heterosexual men). It has identified Webcams, infrared tracking sensors, speech recognition software, and smartphones from Creative Labs; 3D stereoscopic rendering technology from nVidia, cameras from Zeiss, cameras from Intel, brainwave sensors from Neurosky, haptic sex toys from Fleshlight, and many other tools that when combined let someone pretend they're getting intimate with a digital lover.
A demo of the technology available online shows someone using the VRSexKit in a variety of sexual situations, including the fondling of a female avatar, intercourse with another, and more. By incorporating the haptic sex toy, the VR cameras, the mind sensors, and the other tools, ThriXXX hopes that anyone using this kit will have a multisensory experience better than anything else currently available in the digital realm.
All told, the company said, that full-on experience can be had for less than $1,500. ThriXXX expects the full system to be ready for prime time by next year.
Though ThriXXX is relying on commodity equipment, the company has developed graphics and animation technology that it says ties all of it together into a single, seamless system.
Not everyone is excited about what ThriXXX is working on however. While the company has been a leader in figuring out how to adapt devices like the Kinect for virtual sex, said Kyle Machulis, an expert on the union of sex and technology, it's not clear that the VRSexKit will ever be more than vaporware. "This is a pure marketing video," Machulis said of the VRSexKit demo. "[Abram is] a smart dude. He rode in early on the Kinect stuff..." but he's shipped nothing "in terms of actually harnessing that."
Plus, Machulis said, "no one has proved they want this [technology]," despite other companies, like Sinful Robot, also working on similar products.
Still, Machulis did acknowledge that all the tools behind the VRSexKit are available and could be linked together.
Open VR Sex API
Underpinning the hardware that powers the VRSexKit, ThriXXX is also building what it calls its Open VR Sex API. This tool, Abram told CNET, could be instrumental in helping developers come up with interesting ways to incorporate the kit. Though it's easy to imagine a wide variety of steamy projects, Abram envisions the project being at the heart of a new kind of sex education system. He thinks that by presenting young people with a realistic digital sexual experience, educators could help them learn what's right and what's wrong when it comes to sexual activity.
"There's crazy stats about the sexual habits of young adults," Abram said. "They're doing a lot of stuff they shouldn't be doing, because they don't know. So maybe they can do virtual role playing, and maybe we can go...'No, don't do that, you might get'" sexually transmitted diseases.
But Abram believes that ThriXXX is probably better off letting others work on such projects, and that an API is the way to go about making such efforts possible.
At the same time, he hopes traditional game developers might find a way to incorporate realistic sexual play into their games. He suggested that in a "perfect world," it might be possible for players of games like World of Warcraft to bring their characters into ThriXXX's world to have sex. "How many times have you heard about people in WoW having sex with their dwarves?" Abram said.