Sex

This Porn Company Wants to Use Virtual Reality to Keep You Alive Forever

Sex today. Immortality tomorrow.
IMAGE Camasutra VR
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Porn star Casey Calvert is completely naked, save for a pair of Louboutin heels.

Everything, down to the most private parts of her private parts, is on display. And if you step up to the Camasutra booth at the Adult Entertainment Expo, you can reach right out and touch her. Just know that while you do so, dozens of other people will be standing there, watching your every move, and you won't actually feel anything. That's because Casey isn't really there—it's her avatar. And you're just a hand, grasping for air.

Camasutra isn't in the business of public sex acts. The tech company is in the business of Virtual Reality, at least for the time being. "Our first rollout is a VR-based product," CEO Adam Sutra says, "but it's mostly because everyone likes VR."

The company, which Sutra describes as an "erotic tech startup," wants to venture into the worlds of Augmented and Mixed Reality in the near future. Unlike VR, Augmented and Mixed Reality bring the actor (or actors) into the user's world; AR enables a projection to appear in front of the user, while MR virtually builds actors and objects into the user's environment. If that sounds too technical, think of it this way: Instead of users entering a porn scene, the porn star joins the user in his or her own bedroom (or wherever else). And, in time, you might be able to "interact" with someone from your personal life—maybe even yourself.

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But for now, using body scans, neuro-mapping, and skeletal tracking, the company has already achieved a remarkable level of realism. Cast your goggles down and you'll see "your body"—it's an actor's, unless you scan your own—and from there, the rest of the scene depends on you. Camasutra tracks it all, including where a user puts their hands down to the speed and force of their, well, motion.

IN TIME, YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO "INTERACT" WITH SOMEONE FROM YOUR PERSONAL LIFE—MAYBE EVEN YOURSELF.

Even the appearance of actors' avatars is accurate. As Sutra explains, "We've scanned a bunch of performers, and what we do after the scan is that they can train their own avatars. We measure how they stand, how they walk, how they talk. The more time someone spends with their avatar, the better it becomes." In the future, this avatar could be you, your partner, or anyone who wants to be uploaded.

Though the scanning process is currently limited to the actors and actresses already in the system, Camasutra is unique in its willingness to one day open the process to the general (consenting) public, which is a bit controversial, to say the least. People currently can't agree about whether Prince's likeness is fair game for a Super Bowl hologram, let alone who should be available for digital intercourse. Given the controversy already surrounding non-consensual "deepfakes" in porn, the legal road ahead will presumably be a long one.

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As for the technology? It isn't far off. It's already used in Hollywood blockbusters to assist with costuming—a scan of Gal Gadot was used to create a perfectly formed breastplate for her character in Wonder Woman—but Sutra is attracted to the potential for personal use. "You can become the actor," he says, "or perhaps you want to be a voyeur. All of these things are possible in an interactive experience."

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For this to happen, the company has to do more than just develop more scenarios for its current prototype. It also needs to address digital human rights beyond consenting porn actors. Perhaps the most obvious question is who exactly can and should be scanned into the system, and who will have access to their avatars. 

Camasutra, however, doesn't see its role in ethical policing; the company is more interested in creating content. For them, those science-fiction-level questions are still too far off to be relevant. Still, shows like Black Mirror have explored that strange line between human and humanoid, and almost always, one side loses out. Artificial or not, to what end do we have a responsibility to the creations we make?

ARTIFICIAL OR NOT, TO WHAT END DO WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THE CREATIONS WE MAKE?

In Sutra's eyes, the greater potential goes even beyond the sexual realm. He suggests, "People that you know quite well—you might want to scan them. You might want to have them immortalized. When they die, you might want to keep them around."

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Conversations have already taken place over cryonics, or the process of freezing people with the hopes of bringing them back to life once the technology or medical advancement is available. The process is widely seen in the scientific community as irresponsible, if not a malicious money drain. While Camasutra's advances and ideals focus more on a digital realm, it asks the ultimate question: What benefit (or ramification) comes from a human—or even their digital echo—being kept alive forever?

For now, the Camasutra team sees themselves as "hardware agnostic" innovators. Before anyone tries to recreate a real world "San Junipero," the first order of business is to take the current technology and make it more affordable so that avatars like Casey Calvert and other consenting actors are available to the everyday VR porn consumer. And while the logistics and legalities may not be finalized, Camasutra has an endgame to give you more to do than just watch.

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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