Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Virtual Reality

Is Virtual Reality the Future or the End of Intimacy?

Emerging technologies are driving the transformation of dating practices and intimacy.

 

Emerging technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of human life. In this rapidly evolving world, new innovations are changing the way we relate to each other, including the way we access and experience intimacy.

Virtual reality is at the forefront of this transformation. Of all emerging tech, VR is the most promising when it comes to expanding the horizons of romance and dating. Both are already at our fingertips thanks to existing technologies like social media and dating apps. But in the future, VR might push the boundaries of intimacy even further. Perhaps people may even be able to access intimate lifelike experiences without the need for physical interaction.

There is no doubt that virtual reality is going to transform our experience of intimacy. But we don’t know for sure how emerging technologies will shape its future. Will these innovations defeat loneliness? How will they affect human relationships? Are these new technologies going to end intimacy?

The New Frontiers of Intimacy

Studies show that humans can develop an attachment to virtual or robotic companions too. Researchers have different theories about how this is possible. Some say that interactive tech engages the part of our brain that has to do with social intelligence. Others posit that we develop feelings of intimacy towards technology because our brains aren’t built for the modern advances of the 21st century.

University of Manitoba researcher, Neil McArthur, and University of Wisconsin professor, Markie Twist, call these shifting sexual technologies “digisexualities”.

So, what does this mean?

Will our silky-voiced virtual pals eventually be capable of breaking our hearts? Or are we finally going to have our very own Wall-E someday?

kissenger
Kissenger

Like in the movie Her, people might be able to form romantic relationships with virtual partners, such as Samantha, someday. There is a plethora of romantic tech innovations that people can explore today. Unfortunately, no application so far has come as close to creating a lifelike virtual lover.

Needless to say, innovators are working on it.

Take Kissenger for instance. Built by research lab Imagineering Institute, it is a robotic smartphone accessory that physically simulates kisses, allowing people to express their affection over the internet and actually feel it. Meanwhile, existing apps like Alice AI and Invisible Boyfriend can leave you affectionate text messages in the same way a real person might. Since virtual is far more immersive, future applications are bound to enhance human experiences or present new avenues for exploration.

Virtual Reality: The End of Intimacy?

The world is already in the midst of a sexual and romantic revolution. Today, conveyor belt beds, dating apps, and the like affect the way people form intimate bonds.

Innovators are partnering with companies who produce adult materials in hopes of improving the intimate relationships of viewers. This virtual experience is nothing new. Since the technology is still evolving, it may present new opportunities for exploring intimacy in the future. But tech companies should tread lightly as these could result in ethical issues. Individuals who are set to appear in virtual adult content should be aware of the full extent of the programs.

As virtual reality advances, more people are going to find this technology fundamental to their sexual identity. They might even start to prefer intimate virtual experiences over human intimacy. However, the rise of VR intimacy won’t necessarily end human intimacy as it may help build more meaningful interactions between couples. Apps driven by immersive tech may soon become platforms for creating intimate experiences that save long-distance relationships.

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Human connections don’t have to end with the rise of VR. As a matter of fact, people could use it as a tool to bridge the intimacy gap. Couples who are far apart from each other may soon find comfort through the virtual world. VR may also provide a safe space for experimentation. Couples can explore each other’s fantasies. They can exchange educational content through apps. Someday, married couples might even be able to visit a therapist in the virtual realm.

No one can know for sure how the future of romance and intimacy will turn out. But one thing is certain: we should start approaching these possibilities with an open mind, especially since immersive romantic innovations are becoming more widespread.

Gergana Mileva
the authorGergana Mileva
Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance journalist and writer, focusing on technology, finance, and marketing.