Falling in love in virtual reality could be a deeper experience than real life
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The vast majority of us are constantly connected to the things we like and those we are close to through technology – to the point where we may even have problems managing without it. So when something as exciting as virtual reality (VR) comes along, it can quickly become part of our already tech-reliant lives, providing us with multiple new possibilities, including for falling in love.VR is now more immersive and believable than ever before. Cheaper hardware and faster software means it is within our reach at home. VR has become a walk-in painting, a gut-wrenching white-knuckle ride, and a mystical land where you can defy gravity. Likewise, you can visit real world places using VR, witness events or learn something new. Putting on a headset and using motion trackers can transport you into a different universe. It doesn’t need to be expensive or highly specialised – you can jump in from the comfort of your living room with commercially available technology. VR has a wonderful history of geeked-out subcultural tech communities, experimenting with what it means to be tech-social. Already there are dating apps, 360-degree virtual experiences and online multi-player gaming. But it is going beyond this, and allowing humans to have much deeper interactions with one another.
Physical barriersTouch is such an important part of building relationships that it can be difficult to see how this can be overcome in the virtual world. After all, without a physical presence, you cannot feel the other person, or react to small movements and expressions that we are all innately attuned to. There has already been a great deal of interest in the sensationalism that VR can offer. VR sex, as VR sensual experience or standard pornography, tends to focus on bodily arousal, infidelity and kink. However, it can be more romantic than that: “The Kissenger” allows you to “kiss” someone using a mobile phone add-on, for example, making the virtual a little more real. And immersive sensual suits with haptic feedback can make that special date on a VR dancefloor even more memorable. Online connections have allowed us to communicate over vast distances, meet others we like and share interests with, and even build relationships for many years now. We’re not limited to interacting with those physically near us any more, but virtual reality is taking us one step beyond chatrooms and the like. Interacting with another avatar’s physical appearance – one which displays a style that the person may be unable to portray in real life – adds an extra level to things. We can talk and interact with them almost as if they are physically in the same room, even though they may be on the opposite side of the world.
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