AMSTERDAM — Kiiroo CEO Toon Timmermans delivered a TEDx talk titled “Virtual Intimacy” as part of TEDxVienna Salon’s “The Future of Intimacy” program.
“Who has had sex without physically being together? Technology is changing the way we communicate and are intimate,” Timmermans says, recalling a time when the only way to reach a long-distance love interest was through letters.
Timmermans points out that technology has not only changed how we maintain relationships but how we establish them. Citing a 2014 Match.com report, 20 percent of new relationships start online with 25 percent of people ages 18-27 using online dating apps to meet potential partners.
Timmermans said he once tried Tinder “for research.”
“I was really, really bad at it,” he said. “What do you say to someone you’ve never met? At that moment I realized I’m a digital immigrant rather than a digital citizen.”
According to Timmermans, digital citizens are those that are more comfortable with intimate communication online, and have never lived in a world without cellphones.
“This new way of communication makes the world even bigger because we can have relationships with people all over the world — but at the same time it makes it smaller because we can reach people all over the world,” Timmermans said.
Although the way we are intimate has changed with sexy photos, phone sex and sexting, humans still need physical touch to build or maintain a connection with somebody, Timmermans says.
The need for physical touch served as inspiration for the development of Kiiroo’s interactive toys. Timmermans says the Kiiroo is designed to enable partners to feel each other without being physically together — including those that travel a lot, are in the military or are disabled.
The KIIROO Onyx is an innovative male masturbator for men, and the KIIROO Pearl is the linking female masturbator that complements it. When one is used, the other replicates the feeling through movement. The Onyx male masturbator and the Pearl female vibrator connect via Bluetooth and Internet, while couples can communicate via video chat.
“The more we got in the sex tech industry the more we saw that there was a huge demand to connect our devices with all kinds of video content like webcam and virtual reality,” Timmermans said. “We developed a way to connect to this kind of content to add the missing element of touch. So now you can feel what is happening just like if you were there.”
Kiiroo has joined forces with webcam platforms and virtual reality content websites to connect webcam models with their viewers and add to the realistic experience of virtual reality.
“Virtual reality makes it look real, and now it can feel real,” Timmermans said. “It will become literally a mindfuck.”
Timmermans also offers his prediction for the future of online intimacy.
“The possibilities are endless and we have only barely scratched the surface of what is possible,” he said. “I believe in a short period of time we will get used to this third dimension of online intimacy —to hear each other and see each other, and now we can feel each other.”
Timmermans concludes his talk by stressing that Kiiroo is not intent on trying to replace human sexual interaction. “We are just adding something for the people that cannot be together,” he says.