From virtual pornography to posh dating apps, tech is changing sex forever.
Computers have touched every human endeavour: from how we communicate to how we shop, and increasingly how we date.
Most will be aware of apps like Tinder, which lets both men and women browse prospective suitors and approve or reject them with the swish of a finger. But as audacious as that may seem it is banal compared to some things in the pipeline.
Here are some of the most interesting examples:
1. Virtual reality porn
It must have taken mere seconds after the notion of the Internet of Things was coined for someone to suggest that sex toys were ripe for joining the ranks of connected devices.
In this spirit Lovense, a manufacturer of sex toys, is working on products to accompany virtual reality porn. Such toys will work with Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear headsets, presenting viewers with the illusion of participating in the film they are watching.
“What will drive standard adoption [of virtual reality] again is porn,” said tech investor John Straw, commenting on the trend. “The prospect of making porn that immersive and interactive for the porn industry is simply huge.”
2. Condom gauge
The marketers say that there is an app for everything these days, and this includes one for sizing up your (or your partner’s) member – for the purposes of safer sex, obviously.
Though intended as a “light-hearted” effort, the Measure Your Penis app is intended to promote proper protection by allowing men to measure themselves, and referring them on to sites where they can buy correctly sized condoms.
Unsurprisingly the man behind the scheme is behind a condom website himself, a Dutch venture known as Condoom Anoniem, or Condoms Anonymous in English.
3. Posh dating
In the past some researchers have suggested that people are more likely to build successful relationships with those who come from similar backgrounds.
Inner Circle is a dating club that capitalise on exactly this trend, styling itself as an “exclusive international community where single ambitious professionals with similar backgrounds and interests meet” – in other words a club for the well-heeled.
Members are invited to meet through the iTunes app, Apple Watch app, and even at real-life events should they so choose.
4. Homemade porn
The naked celebrity photo scandal towards the end of last summer, better known as the Fappening, brought the dangers of storing intimate photos online to national media attention, with the actress Jennifer Lawrence having her private life exposed in detail online.
An even darker trend has been the rise of revenge porn, or the practice of disgruntled boyfriends (it is usually men) releasing compromising photos and videos online after a relationship has soured. Though the law is catching up with the problem, it still remains far behind.
This in mind developers have put together Disckreet, an app that requires a password from both halves of the couple before intimate images can be accessed. By doing this it stops one partner sharing things without the others’ permission.
5. Printed sex toys
The phenomenon of 3D printing has prompted all sorts of scaremongering stories about terrorists printing and assembling their own guns from the comfort of their home.
A less malign use for the tech comes at the suggestion of MakerLove, a collection of free sex toy designs that has actually been around since 1998, but may well be about to gain further popularity as consumer printers come down in price.
“When people have the ability to make things privately, we suspect they will choose to make certain items without telling anyone else,” the company’s website says. “Sex toys and personal items seem rather high up on that list.”