Does Robot Intimacy Mean More Group Sex and Less Herpes?
FriXion is creating the tools to let you have real-time orgies, through your computer.
By 2015, even us horny Neanderthals who don't play video games have thought about doing it with a robot. Teledildonics are computer-controlled electronic sex toys. With the help of companies like FriXion, "a sexy new social kinetic experience," you'll soon be able to use teledildonics through a social-networking platform. With virtual reality, you'll be able to have a sexual experience with another human, 30 humans, an avatar, or even your favorite porn star.
As a proud sexual deviant who doesn't know how to code, I wanted to learn more about the human side of FriXion and its impact on sex and dating. Dialing in from the Netherlands, I spoke with Seth, a co-founder of FriXion who goes by his first name only, to learn about the technology's possible impact on cheating and STD rates. I also learned what a virtual glory hole is.
VICE: What does your technology do?
Seth: It's important to understand that FriXion is not a hardware company. Our efforts are all in software. The hardware you see us using in videos come from various vendors. There are so many smart sex toys these days, and in principle they should all be supported on our platform.
Sex is easy. It really wasn't the original intention; the original intention was touching. We wanted people to interact over the internet, like your arm was reaching through the [screen]. That was already pretty amazing; you could poke at teddy bears. Then people started touching not teddy bears but each other, just with their hands... I shouldn't have been surprised, but very quickly most people would just start doing naughty actions. Once they realized they were touching each other, they were immediately trying to hump the machine.That happened enough times that we were like, "No one's going to take this touching over the internet seriously until they can fuck."
There's an older tech that we're using called the interactive Fleshlight that measures the air pressure inside of a Fleshlight, so when you penetrate the Fleshlight you feel the positive pressure and you're able to make it a full-on sex machine. Right now everything we're supporting really focuses on relative motion.
Could you elaborate on how this could work for group sex, or threesomes?Because each toy is compatible with every other toy, you can do a lot of interesting things. You can have a kind of circle jerk where all the toys are connected to each other. You're probably thinking only men can do it, but there's no reason why women can't be in the same circle tied with the other men's actions or women or whatever. It's very easy to imagine sex workers or porn stars. The example I give is James Deen. There are a lot of women who want to have sex with James Deen. [Imagine] an event in which he invites hundreds of women and has simultaneous sex with hundreds of women, because the motion on his device drives all of their devices equally.
In a romantic sense, what would you like to achieve with this product?
The business of FriXion is the social network. Whatever smart sex toy you have with FriXion you'll be able to find other people to use it with. The idea is that you'll be having sex or something like sex with people you know, or people you find on FriXion. I think that opens a lot of interesting ways to challenge traditional notions of intimacy.
One of the things we've toyed with in our very limited group is a virtual glory hole. It's kind of like Chatroulette, where it just randomly connects two people who have compatible toys. You don't see their names, you don't see their face, all you know is that you're pushing against a real person on the other side. You don't know if they're male, you don't know if they're female, and the only way you're exposed to each other is if you both choose to be. I think that's interesting.
You're kind of challenging what masturbation is because you're involving other people. It's mutual masturbation and solo masturbation; it becomes more of a sex act.
Could FriXion be a sexual outlet with fewer consequences?
I think that it's a very low risk, high reward option for spicing up a couple. You could imagine having a kind of a threesome where there are two people in a room using toys and there's a third person out on the internet. It's a very safe way to [have a threesome] without having the stress of the pressure on a relationship of bringing in a third person.
When it comes to cheating... we've decided in our group that it's quite an intimate connection. Most people would say that if they caught their partners having phone sex or cyber sex with the same person over and over and really making connections—even without this kind of technology—a lot of people consider that intimacy.
A lot of people say "I wouldn't want my wife doing this with other men online, because it is quite physical, visceral." I think that matters. Now that doesn't mean there won't be more progressive perspectives on this where you'll have more permissive relationships, like "Oh well, that's fine as long as you come home to me, as long as you have enough fuel in the tank for me afterward." I think that's great.
When I imagine a positive influence I imagine that as the technology matures, as it becomes more and more effective, I think it's going to remove the power of sex in the relationship paradigm. Because right now you probably know people who are in relationships only for the sex. You might not really like the girl, she's ditzy, she's annoying, whatever. You might not really like the guy, he's dumb, he doesn't have the right values, but he's got a big dick. And they still get together because she looks good on his arms and shit like that. When sex is infinitely available at basically no risk, I think it's going to be more challenging to find a partner if you don't have something other than sex to provide for that relationship. I think it's definitely going to make better relationships; it's going to lower the divorce rates. You're not going to waste your time with someone just because you're trying to get laid, because it will be so easy to find sex online.
FriXion has no STD risk and it's impossible to knock someone up with it. What do you think about that aspect of your technology?
I see sex becoming infinitely available. It's not only infinitely available because it's available from your computer or your phone wherever you are, but because people want to participate. If you think about why women don't have sex more than they do, as a generalization it's because of fears of pregnancy, of social pressure and shaming, of stalkers, of social status... All these things factor into whether a woman wants to have sex with more men. It's very interesting to imagine a world where she doesn't have to worry about any of that. I'm using women as an example, but you could just as easily flip it around for men, [homosexual people], heterosexual [people], all that stuff. Imagine what risk-free sex can do to a society.
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