Future of Sex http://futureofsex.net Latest insights into how human sexuality is changing Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:59:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 http://futureofsex.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-512px-FoS-favicon-32x32.jpg Future of Sex http://futureofsex.net 32 32 Sex Toy Maker We-Vibe Sued for Collecting Intimate Data in Proposed Class Action http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/sex-toy-maker-vibe-sued-collecting-intimate-data-proposed-class-action/ http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/sex-toy-maker-vibe-sued-collecting-intimate-data-proposed-class-action/#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:47:15 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8199 Lawsuit alleges privacy breach affecting users of Internet-connected vibrator.  On September 2, a Chicago woman, identified only as N.P., filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Standard Innovation Corp., the Canadian company that sells We-Vibe sex toys. The crux of the complaint is that We-Vibe’s app is accused of collecting very personal and intimate sexual information […]

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Lawsuit alleges privacy breach affecting users of Internet-connected vibrator. 

We-Vibe sex toys let you get intimate with long-distance lovers.

On September 2, a Chicago woman, identified only as N.P., filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Standard Innovation Corp., the Canadian company that sells We-Vibe sex toys.

The crux of the complaint is that We-Vibe’s app is accused of collecting very personal and intimate sexual information about how people are using its vibrators, including IP addresses, date, time, duration of use, and sex toy temperature, without consent.

Intimacy and security

The suit brings to light many people’s concerns over privacy in the digital age. Personal information is often collected by manufacturers as well as social networking platforms for ad targeting and to sell to other companies.

These concerns are magnified by the growing prevalence of networked devices: the Internet of Things being the term for everything from cars to toasters communicating with each other, sometimes wirelessly over short distances via Bluetooth—or across thousands of miles via the Internet.

Sex toy manufacturers, including We-Vibe, were quick to integrate this technology into many of its products. With the We-Connect mobile app, users can link We-Vibe vibrators to their phones through Bluetooth so they can be controlled remotely by a partner located somewhere else. The app also allow users to create custom vibration patterns and to communicate over voice and video calls.

Fallout from the Defcon hack?

The timing of the lawsuit is interesting. It comes following a demonstration at the 2016 Defcon internet security conference that showed that Standard Innovation has been collecting a wide range of personal user information, including vibration intensity.

Standard Innovation released a statement on August 12, admitting it has been collecting user data:

We do collect certain limited data to help us improve our products and for diagnostic purposes. As a matter of practice, we use this data in an aggregate, non-identifiable form. Processor chip temperature is used to help us determine whether device processors are operating correctly. And vibration intensity data is used for the purposes of helping us better understand how—in the aggregate—our product features are utilized.

In what appears to be a response to the N.P. lawsuit, the company released a statement on September 13:

We have made a commitment to our customers to improve transparency and to continue to enhance our data security measures. We stand behind that commitment.

Part of our commitment is to engage external security and privacy experts to conduct a thorough review of our data practices with a view of further strengthening data protection for our customers. That review is ongoing, and we have already taken steps to enhance the data practices for our product offering.

We are updating the We-Connect™ app later this month, and the update will include new in-app communication regarding our privacy and data practices and a new feature for consumers to control how their data may be used.

Privacy versus disclosure

Eve-Lynn Rapp from Edelson PC, the attorney representing the plaintiff told Sputnik News that the suit is less about the concept of collecting personal information and more about We-Vibe’s lack of disclosure:

“When they [Windows or Apple] wOnts to track your diagnostic information about how you read your word document they actually ask you. It is usually something like, ‘we see your computer has shut down, can we send your diagnostics to Microsoft for analysis?’ There is nothing like that over here in this lawsuit.”

The plaintiff is seeking an injunction against Standard Innovation to prevent the company from further data collection,plus damages for invasion of privacy.

Rapp summed up the feelings of the plaintiff, as well as the feelings of other sex toy users in this new Internet of Things era: “Given how personal this information is what the company was doing is inappropriate.”

Image source: SecretDeliveryPl

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Indiegogo’s After Dark Collection Shines (Some) Light on Adult Products http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/indiegogos-dark-collection-shines-light-adult-products/ http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/indiegogos-dark-collection-shines-light-adult-products/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:06:13 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8186 Crowdfunding site’s initiative to promote sex tech falls short. Crowdfunding has been a true game changer for sex technology and innovation. When the popular money raising concept was introduced, the egalitarians in many of us rejoiced at the idea of having a direct stake in the development of products we want in our hands—and elsewhere. […]

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Crowdfunding site’s initiative to promote sex tech falls short.

New After Dark section features Indiegogo's sex tech products,

Crowdfunding has been a true game changer for sex technology and innovation. When the popular money raising concept was introduced, the egalitarians in many of us rejoiced at the idea of having a direct stake in the development of products we want in our hands—and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, sex products have traveled a bumpy road in the crowdfunding world. Kickstarter has shied away from allowing campaigns for sex tech—despite the rising popularity and social acceptance of sex toys and aids. Enter Indiegogo, a platform that’s allowed fundraising for both mainstream and sex tech products with great success. Remember Eva? The little wearable vibrator that could (and can!) raised over $800,000. There is a significant market here.

To take greater advantage of the growing interest in sex product invention, the website has now launched Indiegogo After Dark—a collection of all of its sex tech campaigns. Prospective crowdfunders can now easily find their future sexual fulfillment.

Hidden pleasures

Well, not entirely easily. Yes, the After Dark collection is a great grouping to draw attention to hitherto hidden products. However, Indiegogo might still be a little shy. At this point, Indiegogo does not list After Dark on its main Collections page. Without the direct link to the After Dark collection, it’s not easy to find. Even browsing the Explore section is challenging because it doesn’t feature a sex tech category or obvious internal links to such related products.

Vincent Lee, founder and CEO of Vitafun—which currently has a campaign to fund its His & Her Smart Interactive Sex Toys on Indiegogo—explains why the visibility of crowdfunding adult products is so necessary:

“It allows more interaction with potential users in social media, so that they feel that you are real. General users rarely share information about toys to their friends. Letting the fans help you spread the idea is not realistic; you have to try to get to more potential users.”

One-stop crowdfunding is a great idea if you’re keen to support sex tech and innovation, but the site needs to take things one step further. To truly demonstrate a commitment to the sex products that have raised over $2 million on the platform (and these are just the ones currently listed), and to live up to its reputation as the adult-friendly crowdfunding space, Indiegogo needs to list After Dark with the other collections.

Image source: Indiegogo

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Facial Recognition Technology Lets You Find Your Erotic Doppelganger http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/facial-recognition-technology-lets-find-erotic-doppelganger/ http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/facial-recognition-technology-lets-find-erotic-doppelganger/#respond Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:42:03 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8157 Cam site searches its model database so you can hook up with a lookalike. It’s really one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” things. Someone at the erotic live cam search engine site Magacams.me [NSFW] had more than likely heard of facial recognition. Then, no doubt with an ah-ha moment, they realized that […]

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Cam site searches its model database so you can hook up with a lookalike.

A photos showing facial recognition tech in action.

It’s really one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” things.

Someone at the erotic live cam search engine site Magacams.me [NSFW] had more than likely heard of facial recognition. Then, no doubt with an ah-ha moment, they realized that it could allow anyone to upload a picture of their choosing to find a match against all their existing webcam models.

In short, it’s now possible to view an racy webcam show with someone who looks like yourself—or anyone else for that matter.

Finding faces

Facial recognition has been around for quite sometime, with early work being done on the field back in the mid 1960s. But with the coming of higher-resolution imaging systems (meaning more detail), along with more sophisticated programing, facial recognition has improved its accuracy considerably.

The principle is actually relatively simple: a camera scans a face, or the image of one, breaks it down into its component parts, and then compares that against a database looking for a match.

Everyone seems to want to know yours

Facial recognition is something a lot of people are interested in, and that governments are as well should come at no surprise. However, many social media platforms—such as Facebook—and advertisers are pouring serious research money into the technology, hoping someday to track not just your face, but to target you with whatever advertising or other media the want.

Naturally, this is something that a whole other group of people are concerned about, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—to name just two. So far, however, the field is still a bit of a battleground: one side concerned about the right to privacy and others seeing facial recognition as a useful tool in identifying individuals for serious security concerns—or just to sell soap.

The search for me

Using a less-than-flattering selfie I found the results to be pretty, well, generic: more than quite a few guys with glasses, some with white beards, and a more than a fair share of hair-disadvantaged gentlemen. The most, according to the site, they could find was someone with a 45% match. I’d hardly say any of them possessed my innate, and if I may be so bold, magnetic sexuality.

Albert Einstein photo

Going back to the folks at Magacams.me, your intrepid reporter decided to follow in the footsteps of The Next Web and try to find my own doppelganger—all for the sake of journalistic experimentation, you understand. Yeah, that’s it. Nothing else. I assure you.

But, still, that the site managed to break my shot down into these components and compare them against their database, and in a matter of minutes, is still pretty staggering.

I considered submitting a picture of Donald Trump but, thankfully, didn’t go through with it.

Trying a polar opposite, I next gave one of my heroes a shot. Alas, Albert Einstein only got me more generic old men—though in poses and behaviors that would have made the founder of modern physics blush.

Finally, and feeling more than a bit silly, I uploaded a shot of another icon, but I guess either the system couldn’t handle it or there really isn’t anyone out there doing sexcam work who looks like the statue of liberty.

On the face of it

In the end, when the jokes are put aside, we come to an essential question: do you own your own face? What Magacams.me has done isn’t really all that special: the technology is out there, the genie is out of the bottle.

Other sites will be following suit, if they haven’t done so already: allowing you to find movies, TV shows, book covers, and then security cameras—all where you, or anyone else, might appear.

In today’s world, where fear far too often seems to trump civil rights, we can only hope that when we stop laughing at sites like Magacams.me we wil begin to realize the seriousness that underlies it all—and that the face we put forward should always be ours to share, or not.

Image sources: Southbank Centre, Orren Jack Turner

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VR Porn Star Ela Darling Makes a Powerful Statement on Female Sexuality http://futureofsex.net/immersive-entertainment/vr-porn/vr-porn-star-ela-darling-makes-powerful-statement-female-sexuality/ http://futureofsex.net/immersive-entertainment/vr-porn/vr-porn-star-ela-darling-makes-powerful-statement-female-sexuality/#respond Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:50:15 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8149 Feminist, entrepreneur, and ex-librarian: the adult actress is shattering stereotypes. It is a truth universally acknowledged that female porn stars aren’t supposed to be role models. They’re either victims, whores, or freaks, and they should definitely bow under the crushing weight of constant guilt and shame at what they do for a living. Well, screw […]

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Feminist, entrepreneur, and ex-librarian: the adult actress is shattering stereotypes.

Ela Darling is a VR porn entrepreneur.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that female porn stars aren’t supposed to be role models. They’re either victims, whores, or freaks, and they should definitely bow under the crushing weight of constant guilt and shame at what they do for a living.

Well, screw that—literally—says pornographer Ela Darling, co-founder of VRTube. If you’re looking for the usual story of abuse and deprivation leading a promising young woman astray into the clutches of an exploitative industry, you’re fresh out of luck.

Following a happy childhood surrounded by a close-knit supportive family, Darling graduated with a Master’s degree at 21 and landed a stable job as an Associate Director and Head of Reference at a Massachusetts library. She was happy until she got hit by a serious case of existential ennui, which gave her an itch to see what else was out there. Quite a lot, as it turns out. Below she shares her journey in her own words:

I thought to myself: “Do I want the rest of my life to start at 22?” I had a lot more free time working this full-time job than I did in college, when I was taking an inadvisable number of classes while working two jobs. I had been modeling since I was 18 and decided to try something more risqué just for fun. I made more money in an hour than I made in a day working at the library, and more in a day than I made in a week. I shot a few more times before realizing that this was a viable career option and if I wanted to seize it, I should do so immediately. They say “fortune favors the bold” so I took a chance and I moved out to LA where I shot my first hardcore porn scene. From there it was history.

When I was on set for my very first porn scene, my parents called me and asked what sort of photoshoot I was doing. I hesitated for a few seconds before telling them the complete truth. They taught me that there is no truth too hard for them to handle and that they will support and love me through anything I can throw at them, but the worst thing I can do is lie to them. It’s something I’ve carried into my adult relationships: the expectations I have in my personal relationships are “Honesty, Respect, Communication.” These are characteristics instilled in me by my parents and I’m so grateful to them.

It’s funny, because when I was a librarian some of my patrons called me a “hot librarian” but now people call me a “smart pornstar” and to be honest, I’d rather be the “smart” anything than the “hot” anything. I know that guys are into the sexy librarian fantasy, which I also think is alluring, but I try not to hypersexualize the people in a career which is often undervalued and I try to support libraries as much as I can. At AVN [NSFW], if my fans show me their library card, I’ll show them my tits, but I also encourage people to realize that librarians are freedom fighters for privacy and our right to access information. They’ve gone to jail to defend our rights to consume information without censorship. Librarians are pretty badass.

Women are still taught in schools that their sexuality is like a piece of gum: once it’s been chewed by one person, nobody wants it anymore. We’re taught that our bodies are LITERALLY GARBAGE if we have the audacity to have sex. Men and women both feed into this harmful notion that women who have sex are inviting disaster or rape. There are people who stand at adult conventions with signs telling us we deserve rape.

What’s that phrase men talk about desiring? A lady in the street but a freak in the bed? Even the men who want to fuck us want us to pretend we don’t fuck when we’re in public spaces. I’m pleased to see a sex-positive and porn-positive movement of feminism that is inclusive of marginalized individuals. I do think that women feel more agency over their sexuality when they see women like me own it positively and unapologetically. I’ve had women tell me this personally and every time I hear it, it makes me feel stronger, like the work I do truly matters. It’s incredibly gratifying.

I think the biggest challenge of making and selling adult content to women is that people make a lot of false assumptions about what women want in porn. Women’s taste is as diverse as that of men, but they want porn that’s well-made and believable. Women know what makes a woman feel good and what doesn’t. A fake orgasm from sexual stimulation that clearly wouldn’t make the woman cum isn’t sexy for women.

I started focusing on virtual reality after I met my business partner James Ashfield in 2014. I had been interested in VR since the first time I tried the Oculus Rift at E3 (the Electronics Entertainment Expo) several years ago. When I saw a post on Reddit about someone wanting to start a VR porn company, I seized the opportunity and reached out to him immediately. A month later we shot our first scene in his college dorm room, which I found very funny. When we watched the footage, we were blown away by how intimate and engaging the experience was, so we quickly realized that we were on to something great. We officially founded VRTube shortly after. Recently, we’ve teamed up with our new business partners Cam4 and we’re about to launch a sensational new approach to virtual reality live camming.

The response has been sensational. Initially, people questioned virtual reality and assured me it was a gimmick that I was wasting my time on. Slowly, over the next two years, those people came to realize the value of it and they now ask me for advice on how to get started in it themselves. I see more and more VR producers entering the market every month and I’m excited to be on the cutting edge of this new content.

People’s fantasies don’t change because of the way they’re executed, but I think the way the viewer thinks about the hardcore porn they watch in VR will be much different than the way they think about it when they consume it through traditional platforms. When I watch Cam4VR performers, I feel a much stronger human connection with them, but my desires and fetishes don’t change as a result. Instead, I feel like I can have a more realistic experience with them. I believe that virtual reality will give people more empathy for the people involved and perhaps make them more inclined to implement a more ethical, considerate approach to the sex they have in their private lives.

I’m a feminist and I find my work to be empowering. That said, I am exhausted with people who insist that sex workers explain how their work is empowering. How many other careers have to justify themselves through empowerment? Do construction workers get grilled over how empowered they feel while building homes? Does anyone ever look at their barista with pity in their eyes asking them if they really want to be here or if they’re just doing this job because they have no other options? It’s an extension of peoples’ personal guilt over their own sexuality and I’m so tired of having that guilt projected onto my body and my career. I make money from the work I do. What’s more empowering than doing something I’ve chosen for myself and being able to support myself, my family, and my lifestyle? Through my porn work, I’ve been able to co-found a company without any big investors. That’s some empowering shit right there. But more than that, it’s the job I’ve chosen and it makes me happy.

Image source: CAM4VR [NSFW]

Republished with permission from Alice Bonasio.

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‘Internet of Bodies’ Will Take Intimacy Beyond the Physical World http://futureofsex.net/augmentation/internet-bodies-will-take-intimacy-beyond-physical-world/ http://futureofsex.net/augmentation/internet-bodies-will-take-intimacy-beyond-physical-world/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:59:00 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8121 Ghislaine Boddington on enhancing love and passion with human-machine interfaces. Every day, we send and receive a wealth of digital information through our bodies. We obsessively touch our phone screens and are rewarded with a constant stream of data, audio, and video content. Facial expressions and fingerprints serve to identify us; fitness bands track our […]

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Ghislaine Boddington on enhancing love and passion with human-machine interfaces.

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Every day, we send and receive a wealth of digital information through our bodies. We obsessively touch our phone screens and are rewarded with a constant stream of data, audio, and video content. Facial expressions and fingerprints serve to identify us; fitness bands track our movements, our heart rate, and how many hours of sleep we had last night.

But take that a step further and imagine having tiny implants which connect your internal responses, not only to machines, but plug in directly to the sensations of other people. It would, quite literally, take the concept of intimacy to a whole new level, creating a so-called “Internet of Bodies”—an evocative phrase coined by body technologist Ghislaine Boddington several years ago.

“I’ve been working with ‘body technologies’ since the late 80s. Things like motion capture, robotics, wearables, virtual world, and avatars,” she tells me. “I’m particularly interested in exploring how technology can develop to complement us rather than being just a set of gizmos. I see a convergence over the next 10-15 years between technologies of the body and our emotional selves which are going to give us much deeper experiences and a more enhanced scenario for love, passion, joy, and intimacy.”

Boddington, who is Co-founder and Creative Director of design unit body>data>space, has been exploring the relationship between our “living, sweating bodies” and technology for over 20 years. This fascination comes in part from her background in dance and the performing arts, which gave her a deeper understanding of how crucial the concept of “live presence” is to communication. This year she is brought that expertise to bear in curating the Future Love programme theme at FutureFest, a festival of future ideas organized by innovation charity Nesta.

One of the themes she explored during the September event was “hyper-enhanced sensuality” and how we can create a sense of deeper attachment that to help us reach new levels of joy and passion. This concept of “tele-intimacy” places our bodies at the centre of digital interactions, with content woven into experiences to create symbiotic relationships between the virtual and the physical, between our “real” and our projected, online selves.

Mixed realities

Virtual reality is, of course, part of that picture. It holds the paradoxical promise of lifelike experiences without the need for actual physical presence, which can be physically isolating, especially given the type of content that is currently predominant in the medium.

The key, therefore, lies in producing alternative types of content that tackle issues around negative and objectified representations of women, moving away from violence and repression and toward more positive attitudes, such as embracing gender fluidity that recognizes the diversity of viewpoints and the variety of ways in which people perceive themselves, relate to others, and experiment with their identities.

At the moment, instead of showcasing this broad range of possibilities, most adult VR content follows the well-established formula of male-centered pornography. In itself that is not a problem, but the broader picture is so much more interesting than that:

“We’re looking at things around skin, touch. All these ‘caress’ technologies. And also things like biofeedback related to your gaze, breath, muscle movement… These will all converge and link into virtual worlds and maybe with things like holograms so that we can meet with each other and be intimate whether we’re in the same room or at a distance. One of the problems with VR is that it can be physically isolating. What we’re really need to get to is a real digital skin-on-skin scenario and look at what gaze does to you, what eye contact there is, and how do you reach passion, joy, and intimacy in these areas.”

These technologies will enable us to augment our existence and enhance our sensuality in ways that are probably hard to imagine at this point. But Boddington paints a fascinating picture of a world where bodies will become digital interaction canvases; and if that doesn’t get you turned on about technology, I don’t know what will.

Republished with permission from Alice Bonasio

Image sources: FutureFest

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Dating Sims for Women Take off at Tokyo Games Show 2016 http://futureofsex.net/virtual-sex/dating-sims-women-take-off-tokyo-games-show-2016/ http://futureofsex.net/virtual-sex/dating-sims-women-take-off-tokyo-games-show-2016/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:51:44 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8106 Popular “otome apps” show a gender shift in the gaming market. Dating sims—a gaming genre usually reserved for a male players—underwent a noticeable gender shift at this month’s Tokyo Game Show 2016. RocketNews24, covering the event, pointed out that there was a large contingent of “otome” games present, which are designed for women players. While […]

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Popular “otome apps” show a gender shift in the gaming market.

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Dating sims—a gaming genre usually reserved for a male players—underwent a noticeable gender shift at this month’s Tokyo Game Show 2016.

RocketNews24, covering the event, pointed out that there was a large contingent of “otome” games present, which are designed for women players.

While a gaming staple in Japanese for quite some time, dating sims (also called relationship simulation role-playing games) have begun gaining popularity in other countries.

A noticeable (and let’s be honest here) and downright weird example of one that’s crossed borders is Hatoful Boyfriend.The goal, as the female protagonist, is to woo, date, and then become romantically involved with—wait for it—a bird.

Perhaps due to the popularity of Hatoful Boyfriend, the recent Tokyo Game Show featured several otome games, including one from industry giant Capcom.

Part of the growing international market, Voltage Inc. also displayed its popular line of otome games for iOS and Android in both Japanese and English.

Voltage, to put it mildly, has pretty much every theme and genre covered, from titles such as A Knight’s Devotion (set in the Middle Ages), True Love Sweet Lies (with characters such as the Busque Lawyer, and the Mysterious Boss), Metro PD: Close to You (cop romance), and Era of Samurai: Code of Love (feudal Japan).

From Okko comes a very modern look at dating. Its Sweet Romance game not just has an office setting but also touches on the popularity of rental boyfriends in Japan—a trend where women hire temporary partners

Capcom, meanwhile, is clearly putting its development muscle into otome with Toraware no Paruma (“Incarcerated Palm”). The title the unique goal of trying to romance an amnesiac who may or may not be guilty of a crime—and who spends the game locked in a cell.

Don’t worry, though: you can still “touch palms” with him, send him presents, or even or spy on him in his cell.

It’s exciting to see Japanese developers recognizing the large female gaming market, as well as the increasing popularity of their otome titles in other countries.

One has to wonder, though, with games about dating birds—and jailbirds—already popular, where female gamers may find their next unlikely, or even bizarre, romance.

Image Source: Voltage

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