The Future of Porn

(Thanks A.G!)

The Body Electric
Technology has always pushed the porn industry’s buttons. Julian Dibbell tells all about what hot will mean in the years to come
At the suburban Los Angeles headquarters of world-class pornographers Vivid Video, the technological future of the increasingly high-tech adult-entertainment industry is on proud display. And frankly, it looks a little cheesy. In a front office of Vivid’s interactive-media division, a black Lycra cat suit clings snugly to a shiny black plastic female mannequin, twisted phone wires dangling from electrodes attached at the breasts, crotch and other sensitive locations. As a fashion statement, it’s half Star Trek: Voyager, half Radio Shack. As a concept, it’s just this side of plausible. Designed to plug into a computer’s printer port, the suit will one day let the user reach out over the Internet and touch someone in a very special way, Vivid executives claim. By clicking on the appropriate parts of an onscreen body image, they say, a remote partner will be able to send stimulating sensations — heat, feather touch, vibration — direct to the suit wearer’s wired erogenous zones.
And when can we expect this Jetsonian sexual future to arrive? “Probably about Septemberish,” says Vivid’s co-founder David James, 58, a burly transplanted Welshman. The technology, he explains, has already been shown to work over a local connection. A Taiwanese company has been tapped to produce a slick consumer version of the suit, possibly in neoprene. And multimillion-dollar possibilities for its use in commercial phone sex and other adult media have been lovingly sketched out. All that’s missing, says James, is FCC approval, which he thinks will hinge on Vivid’s proving the safety of the device. “If, for example, we transmit a signal over the Internet and something goes wrong, and the guy’s wearing a pacemaker and he gets fried or something like that …” he says earnestly. You can imagine the possibilities.


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