If there’s one thing to be said about humans, it’s that we have the amazing capacity to find new ways to connect.
The internet, itself, is a marvel to behold, but the ways that we have integrated this technology into our daily lives is almost beyond belief.
Chief among the connections we’ve made are those of a more…’romantic’ nature.
Okay, maybe just sexual in some cases. It’s said, for example, that about 13% of web searches between 2009 to 2010 were for erotic content.
But we’re not all just in it for the physical loving, and online dating also stands testament to our amazing utilization of new technological resources. In fact, in 2015 eHarmony found that according to their research (so take it with a pinch of salt) online dating is now the second most popular way to meet new potential partners—beaten only by meeting through mutual friends. That’s a whole lot of tech lovers…literally!
Given all of this, us folks over at Kiiroo couldn’t help but wonder: Just how much potential does Virtual Reality (VR for short) have as the next biggest dating tool? Is it the next best thing or simply a digital fling?
Although we’re pretty sure people have heard of virtual reality many people have yet to experience it and so the term itself is worthy of some definition.
In its most basic form, virtual reality is a computer-generated environment in which users can interact with certain situations via 3D simulation which is, for the most part, completely immersive. The best example of VR has to be the recently popular VR headsets—which allow you to shut off from the world around you and become engulfed in the world projected through the goggles.
There are other forms of VR—such as gloves fitted with sensors or even full body suits, but VR headsets have proven to be the most effective, realistic, and popular form of VR technology so far.
For a glimpse into just how immersive VR can be we highly recommend looking at this Youtube video. Could you save that cat from virtual doom? We’re not sure if we could!
The immersive environment of virtual reality has many applications in the world. People can visit galleries, places and environments that they could never otherwise afford to visit. Someone with disabilities may find that VR provides them with increased accessibility, and the potential for exploration in terms of educational tours, house hunting, and job seeking have already been considered by some publications.
But does VR really have a place in online dating? We say yes!
Given our extreme eagerness to adopt the newest and most effective tech to connect it’s arguably only a matter of time before VR becomes just one more tool in the arsenal of digital dating strategies. If there’s any doubt of this then one only need turn to the adult industry, which has already begun using VR headsets to provide a new type of pornography, where the buyer can enjoy themselves in much more depth (pun definitely intended).
Although porn isn’t directly comparable to relationships, we do tend to reflect our deepest desires and fantasies through pornography, making it a good indicator for just how many people are starting to consider VR as a valid form of tech when it comes to sex and sexuality.
The most obvious answer is by making dates possible! Virtual reality could, in theory, allow people from across the globe to meet up in person and enjoy each other’s virtual company. Although texting, IMing, and video chat all have their place in an LDR, there’s no denying that couples often crave more in terms of contact, and VR can provide that additional method to connect when meeting up together just isn’t viable for some reason.
Thinking outside of the box for a moment, VR could also give nervous or socially anxious people the perfect opportunity to practice going out and meeting new people while in the safety of their own home. If the right game was created, then such individuals could essentially practice dating ahead of time and build up the skills and confidence they need to become more self-assured and self-loving.
Then, of course, there’s the application of VR porn (which, as we’ve touched upon, already exists), which can impart some practical tips and methods of its own, as long as the user takes a discerning and respectful approach to the scenarios presented.
More generally if someone is playing a VR multiplayer game then there’s already more opportunity to talk and connect too. Granted, online gaming isn’t always the most welcoming space, but it does tend to come with an increased sense of confidence, which may help people ‘put themselves out there’ more by spending more time inwards. A strange premise, but not an unwelcome one.
However, while we’re optimistic about the future of VR dating we do realize that there are some drawbacks.
Although VR can transport people to places in an instant the experience, at the moment, is not completely immersive, and movement is still vastly restricted. For dates, this means that you could potentially use some of the things that make getting together so enjoyable—such as going on a walk or simply just touching.
VR may also make meeting up instant but it’s not cheap, and a couple in an LDR may currently find that paying for flight tickets to see each other is much more tempting than buying another way to connect digitally.
Speaking of that investment very few people can actually afford to own and run a VR headset at the moment, which does severely limit its potential for meeting compatible individuals. All of these are things to consider.
On top of this, it’s also worth considering just how successful digital dating is to start with. There are studies on either side of this question. Some suggest that those who meet online are more likely to last the test of time, whereas others suggest they are doomed from the start.
Ultimately time will tell in this regard.
VR is only becoming more advanced and more popular as time goes on and, as of now, its benefits seem to vastly outweigh its downsides.
Whether VR dating will help people get lucky in love or leave them in real-world heartbreak is uncertain at the moment. But, as we continue to integrate technology further into our lives it’s hard to imagine a world where VR won’t integrate into the larger dating scene and, personal, we’re very excited to see what results this might bring!
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