02 March 2006

Virtual Humans, Virtual Sex, Robot Sex

Singularity News (multipolarity memes) reports on the use of virtual humans in movies, games, and now for testing of digital prototypes based on CAD models. From their source in Betterhumans:

The well known company Caterpillar, which manufactures heavy equipment, uses a digital human called Santos for testing:

"They (Caterpillar) have an interest in serviceability and mental ability," said Abdel-Malek. "We can ask Santos to change an oil filter on a dump truck or some similar task. As he goes about doing the job, we can query any part of his body functions, such as heart rate, temperature, muscle load and others. At the same time, we can watch him work onscreen and observe any problems he might encounter." (Wired, Feb. 22, 2006)

The U.S. Army also uses Santos for testing new designs for body armor and other protective gear. When Santos moves in response to commands, information is relayed regarding his heart rate, comfort level, restrictiveness of the outfit, and joint angles.

The rather fetching virtual image at the multipolarity memes site quite naturally got me thinking about the growing popularity of virtual sex. In Canada:

young Canadians are practicing a new style of safe sex and the only touching required involves a keyboard.

Of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across Canada, 87 percent of them are having sex over instant messenger, webcams or the telephone, according to results of a national survey released on Monday.

"We were very surprised," Noah Gurza, a founder of Toronto-based CampusKiss.com, an online dating community for students, which commissioned a Canadian CampusKiss & Tell Survey.

"We did realize that new technologies are always embraced by younger individuals, but we didn't think it would've reached such a high number."

Gurza said most post-secondary school students grew up using computer technology, and their lives currently revolve around technology, so it makes sense that it would extend to their sex lives.

"It's now extended within their sexual world, whether it be as a social lubricant as a means to then engage in something that's more real, in more real time, or if it's just a means in itself of pleasuring here and there," he said.

Some 2,684 students from more than 150 university and college campuses across Canada took part in the survey. Fifty-one percent of the participates were female and 49 percent were male.

Of those surveyed, 53 percent of students enjoyed sex over instant messenger, while 44 percent did the deed using a webcam and over the phone.

But why stop there? Certainly in this enlightened age we are now ready for sex with . . . . . . robots? For this, the Germans seem to have an advantage:

A German inventor claims to have created the world's most sophisticated robot sex doll.

The sex androids developed by aircraft mechanic Michael Harriman from Nuremberg have 'hearts' that beat harder during sex.

They also breathe harder and have internal heaters to raise the body temperature - but their feet stay cold "just like in real life", according to Harriman.

He said: "They are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing, but I am still developing improvements and I will only be happy when what I have is better than the real thing."

The dolls sold under the Andy brand name are on offer for £4,000 each for the basic model, with extra charges for adaptations like extra large breasts.

Of course, if you spend that much for a robot doll, you should keep a close eye on him or her. It would not do for your doll to fall for another person--or even another robot. That is quite a lot of money to just walk out the door.

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