Toon Timmermans got the idea for his new product during a sex scene in the movie Demolition Man. In it, characters don connected helmets to have virtual sex. After seeing the movie, Timmermans and the Kiiroo team set out to create Kiiroo, a high-tech sex toy aimed at sparking the next digital phase of intimacy--to be able to feel one another from a distance.
But Kiiroo isn't just a sex toy. It's also a social network that acts as a platform to use the toys. Kiiroo doesn't see itself as a sex toy company nor a sexual platform, rather "we see ourselves as a technology company who wants to create a new community and in that community [create] the opportunity to be intimate in a third dimension," Timmermans explained to Fast Company. And the innovation lies in the broad scope of their approach.
Timmermans, a Dutch entrepreneur who cofounded Kiiroo Technologies with his partner Reno Voet, says that his business is the Internet. In 2007, Timmermans helped found calendar synchronization tool Flogs, a company with big-name customers like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona on their client list.
With both Flogs and Kiiroo, Timmermans has employed a simple method for problem solving: Find the void in the online marketplace and create a product. By blending that approach with his overall vision, he was able to generate innovative technologies that have vast potential ushering us further into the new digital era.
In creating Kiiroo Technologies, Timmermans looked at the current market for intimacy and felt that, "everything is two dimensional." He continued, "So you can see each other, you can hear each other but you cannot feel each other." He explained that there are so many picture- or video-laden options like Snapchat, Tinder, and Grindr that facilitate getting carnal with a partner or multiple partners either in person or online.
"That's why Snapchat was invented," Timmermans says. "To send each other pictures that won't get online," as a first stage of getting intimate together. Tinder and Grindr are the more aggressive apps, teasing users with hot-or-not photos to find potential hookups. Yet there's nothing on the market that allows you to get physically familiar with someone through the portal of the Internet.
Kiiroo was designed to give users the sensory feeling of intercourse with a lover, friend, or stranger. However, this is not a simulated experience, this is real-time correspondence of users' nether regions.
It works like this: You create a profile on the network, and you either own the SVir (a male masturbator with eight contracting rings inside that sends out and receives sensory data from the female or male version) or the OPue (a female vibrator that sends out a signal to the SVir). You can connect with someone through the social network to link your devices over the Internet or you can use them in conjunction in the same room through the Bluetooth capabilities. Down the road, they will also launch a two-way OPue that can both send and receive data.
Kiiroo launched an Indiegogo campaign last week to gauge interest in the hardware and the social network, hoping to attract investors and potential partners to the privately funded project. Additionally, the company is evaluating the worldwide prospective pool of users.
"The market is ready for this," Timmermans confirmed over the phone. This is a "mainstream platform and a mainstream product," and Kiiroo is just the facilitator. There are no graphic images or videos attached to the project and the clients will range from couples in long-distance relationships, to people surfing for online hookups, to clients interested in feeling their favorite webcam artists.
Kiiroo hopes to eventually partner with Second Life, which has already approached them about a partnership, according to Timmermans. "They were pretty interested in working together of course, because you can walk around with an avatar in the 3-D dimension world and have sex with each other and then feel the real feeling [with Kiiroo's toys]." Second Life already has 10 million people walking around with avatars and Timmermans believes that tapping into that outlet is the logical next step for the company.
The name for the company comes from the Greek word Kyrios, which means lord or master. Timmermans and his team chose the word Kiiroo to reflect that users will be the lords of his/her own castle--you set the rules for your profile page based on your preferences and every contact made must be mutual.
There are similar touch-responsive products on the market like Lovepalz, the Internet-enabled sensory sex toy and RealTouch, a male masturbator that uses a USB connection to sync users with online videos. Although neither one is as interactive as Kiiroo, nor do they have a social network to facilitate the usage. Timmermans envisions the Kiiroo platform partnering with both these companies, as opposed to seeing them as competition.
Timmermans is sure that the Kiiroo is the future of digital interactive sex, but he won't let the company be pigeonholed within those confines. He postulated that it is hard to say where the company will be in two years, but he has high hopes for integration with the Oculus Rift and Second Life. So eventually, it will become easier to satiate your carnal desires without ever leaving home.
[Image: Flickr user you me]