This is your future.
This is your future. Moon Fox Toys

“I fucked a guy who was in Norway,” says Changa, a giant talking dog who towers over me, easily twice my size. “I was a husky, and he was a wolf and a powerbottom.”

I’m in Seattle and Changa is several hundred miles to the south of me, but because we both have VR headsets strapped to our faces and are using software called VRChat, we are also standing next to each other in what looks like a hotel lobby. Changa appears as an enormous anthropomorphic canine, with bulging muscles and a t-shirt printed with the words “THIS IS AWESOME.” I barely reach up to his chest; and when I look down at my body, I see the brown fur of a rabbit with pink pawpads.

The husky and the wolf weren’t just wearing VR headsets for their encounter, Changa tells me. He also had a motion-sensing sleeve on his dick called a Max 2 that synced to a buttplug inside the Norwegian.

“The Max is transmitting to him and he’s transmitting back,” Changa explains, “and while we’re interacting with our avatars, I’m interacting with the toy, he’s interacting back verbally, and ... we got off together from the other side of the world.”

The sex toy and virtual reality industries have been tentatively flirting for years, but in the last few months the overlap in the two technologies has rapidly accelerated — thanks in large part to horny furry nerds.

“A lot of what VR has done has never been done in humanity before,” says Moon Fox, a furry who this week launched an online sex toy shop. “How it’s going to change us socially, how we’re going to receive one another, how we’re going to experience one another, is going to change our entire society as a whole.”

Changa puts it more succinctly: “It’s amazing watching the fandom learn game development tools so they can fuck.”

As is the case for almost all people, sex and intimacy has always been a part of furries’ lives. Particularly in the late ‘90s, the fandom gained a reputation for debauched convention parties — though in the years prior to the pandemic, researchers studying the furry fandom noted, sex tended to be rated as a lower priority than art, gaming, and role-play. But the isolation of quarantine may have shifted those priorities somewhat.

“The pandemic has been pretty goddamn hard,” Changa says. When he learned that others were using VR for intimacy, he had to know more.

A sexual assignation in virtual space can take a variety of forms, but the process is surprisingly similar to real-life cruising and hookups. Participants generally make their way to a social platform like VRChat or Neos, the same way they might head to a bar or a hookup app. They sometimes make plans ahead of time, as with a real-life date; or they might just show up to see who looks tempting. Interactions can be fairly tame cuddles (as was the case when I took a stroll through a recent gathering and wound up with my bunny arm around a small friendly otter); or they could be explicit, with fantasy breasts, dicks, and tentacles.

Experimenting with remote-controlled physical sex toys — what’s known as “teledildonics” — was first described thirty years ago, but for decades technical hurdles (not to mention sexual stigma) has largely limited the practice to horny hacker futurists. VR is now cheaper and more accessible than ever before, though — an Oculus Quest 2 headset generally runs about $300, and can be used wirelessly without external sensors, camera, or a tether to a PC. That’s freed more people to bring their fantasies to life.

The uncensored version.
The uncensored version. Moon Fox Toys

“Places that only existed in dreams”

“I have a tendency to be wistful about the fact that I’m living in science fiction when I put on the headset,” says Moon Fox, a furry of a certain age who has been fabricating physical fursuits for years. His somber voice, tendency to wax philosophical, and upper-crust British accent make our conversation sound like David Attenborough narrating a sexy wildlife documentary.

“Never has there been a point for the common man, outside of the videogame, that a person … could take those places that had only existed in their dreams, in their imagination, and make them truly real,” Moon Fox explicates. “For the very first time, through color and contrast, pixels and polygons, textures and UVs, you now can create a world and invite people into it.”

“[Our] game syncs with our Lovense Max 2 masturbator which controls the speed and frequency of sex action,” says Dan Liu, CEO of Lovense, a company that makes cutting-edge sex toys full of sensors, transmitters, and motors. In 2019, they released a VR game called Mirror Life that allowed users to physically experience sex with 3D avatars. But in addition to Lovense’s official software, sexual hackers have found the company’s products particularly ripe for experimentation.

Lovense makes extensive developer resources available, encouraging customers to tinker and invent with the devices. Among their popular products is the Diamo, a wireless cock ring that can be wirelessly controlled by a partner; the Hush, a Bluetooth-enabled buttplug; and of course the motion-sensing Max 2 masturbator.

“When people started playing around with this stuff — mind you I think we’ve only been doing this two months — it was playing with the app on a phone to control another person’s device,” Changa says. “You’d have these parties where you’d pass the controller around. You’d notice the avatar’s hand would be out, and outside the headset they’d have their cellphone and have their controls.”

As he describes the scene to me, his husky avatar bounces excitedly on his long digitigrade paws. (In real life, Changa’s operator is sitting on an exercise ball.)

“These were turning into the kinds of parties that supposedly people have at FurCon,” he says. “It was an orgy in a cyberpunk garage.”

From there, they moved on to modding the software and hardware so that the devices could be controlled from within the VR environment. “You could attach the Lovense controller to your wrist in VR,” Changa says. “There’s a client people are starting to run that … can define how deep an object can go inside the avatar, and how it’ll affect the buttplug. So you can go up to the avatar and start playing with their butthole, and it’ll start affecting them for real.”

“Lovense’s biggest pride is our team of developers,” Liu says. “We note the huge interest in our toys in many VR games, especially VRChat and VR furry fandom.”

But Liu also notes that many VR platforms have strict policies about adult content that prevent the company from getting more involved. “I really hope that sex tech will continue to destigmatize, and in the near future, the developers of all games will open their doors to sex tech,” he says.

“The future is coming. We will bridge the man/machine interface.”

For his part, Moon Fox has staked out a unique space in this emerging market: His new store sells silicone versions of virtual avatars’ cocks. If you find yourself admiring a particular dick in VR, you might be able to buy a physical version to hold in your hands.

For a long time, he resisted making adult products. “But then I got into VRChat,” he says. “These expressions between individuals over great distances were going to occur anyway. And they might as well have a bit of fun with it. … So I said, ‘I’m in the middle of COVID, my business is nonexistent.’ This is something I was sort of interested in. I said, ‘what is the worst I’m doing here? Is this something I feel morally wrong about?’ The answer is no.”

His shop currently sells a dozen models of professionally-designed silicone sex toys; for now, none of them have electronic components. But as an engineer, Moon Fox says that he’s planning further innovations.

“The future is coming,” he gravely intones. “It will come. We will bridge the man/machine interface.”

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Dan Liu at Lovense is chasing the technological horizon as well. The company recently released a multimedia player that syncs vibrations to music, as well as a “Group Control” feature that allows users to sync up to 100 Lovense toys.

In the next few years, Moon Fox predicts that we’ll see smarter sensors in toys, and haptic vests that allow you to feel the touch of a partner. (Though such vests exist today, they’re still bulky, expensive, and offer limited sensations.) Beyond that, Moon Fox says, it’s time to talk about brain implants.

“Let’s be honest, a lot of what sex is has everything to do with the brain,” he propounds, as I envision Alistair Cooke settling into a high-backed chair with a hooked pipe and thick leather-bound book full of erotic sketches.

“If you put people who like sex in a world where you can become any creature, where you can sense a fantasy come to life, you can have experiences out of fantasy. And I don’t think that’s going to stop.”

He clears his throat.

“We are physical creatures,” he concludes, “that need touch.”