Let’s take a trip to the future, the not too distant future actually. Picture the scene: Valentine’s Day 2035 and a beaming girlfriend is presented with gifts from the heart by her true love. A piece of emotional jewellery perhaps, or some sensually responsive Valentines lingerie. “Darling, thank you”, she gushes, as she sips a multimedia cocktail, looking out on a Tahitian sunset. Don’t fancy Tahitian sunset? How about Finland and the northern lights? Ok, flick a switch and there we are, watching the electrically charged particles dance above them in the sky.
According to futurologist, Dr Ian Pearson, from the technology impact prediction organisation ‘Futurizon’, none of this is beyond the realms of possibility. In fact, his new report, ‘The Future of Valentine’s Day’, commissioned by Sparkling Strawberry, highlights how rapidly changing technology could soon transform the way we mark the year’s most romantic day. The technological developments and trends discussed in this report have implications way beyond Valentine’s Day, to relationships in general and how we may conduct our romantic liaisons in the decades to come.
Dr Pearson predicts “Colour changing, light emitting or even video clothing will become commonplace…. Even a sequin could contain a sensor, a display device, a button or an electrical stimulation device. Future lingerie and jewellery will have an even more active part in lovemaking with augmented lingerie that feels more sensual.”
This advancement will have a massive impact on the lingerie market. Dr Pearson adds: “Adding touch sensitivity is possible too, offering the scope of lingerie that lights up when touched. Going further and adding some basic life-sign monitoring, measuring pulse and skin conductivity, lingerie could change colour and emit changing patterns, drawing towards a kaleidoscopic climax.”
Sparkling Strawberry already sell pheromone impregnated lingerie – stockings, to be precise – and the lingerie market has a strong track-record of embracing ground-breaking technology. Presumably, it’s only a matter of time before a small device, embedded in lingerie or other wearable items, will be able to generate or emit pheromones on demand or automatically, in response to some other sensor input.
We all know the seductive capabilities of see-through lingerie and with the potential for the production of materials that change colour or transparency, imagine a skin-tight one piece that changes colour through the evening, becoming more transparent as the mood takes you!
But why stop at lingerie? The report also predicts that even tiny items of jewellery, like earrings or tongue studs could be large enough to hold considerable electronic capability. He states “If displays rely on augmented or virtual reality visors, then pretty much all of the rest of a smartphone can be condensed down to jewellery size”
And he predicts that electronics, embedded in our own bodies, could play a part in romance: “even nerve links will become feasible”, he states, “Skin-cell-sized titanium alloy-coated capsules of electronics could be embedded invisibly in the skin to record and replay sensations.” Imagine being able to replay the touch of your lover on Valentine’s night – or any occasion for that matter.
Within a couple of years, Dr Pearson says, fully networked Valentine’s Cards with a touch sensitive video display, will be possible at a cost of under £10. He says: “We’re maybe all bored with tinny speakers emitting a crass jingle, but in future, it will be possible to make playing card sized friend cards…so the recipient can have a card dedicated to one person, with all their up-to-date photos and posts.”
Moving on to the all-important Valentine’s dinner, restaurants of the future will make use of augmented reality, such as offering a particularly romantic setting for the evening, or serenading diners with musicians or celebrity singers. Dr Pearson says it’s all highly plausible, adding: “Winged cupids or fairies could deliver carefully composed notes”. Your drink, he says, may include multimedia sparkles, added via your augmented reality, with “flowing hearts or fireworks emerging from the glass”.
Virtual reality does of course also lend itself to the home. Even if our lovers are far apart, Dr Pearson says, “VR can bring them together in a shared fantasy. It’s even possible to preserve anonymity in VR, with the secret lover there and fully interacting, but represented as an avatar that doesn’t give their identity away. They might even give romantic gifts that appear at first virtually, and are later delivered from Sparkling Strawberry.”
Dr Pearson predicts that a Valentine’s date with a robot is not that far away. He says: “it won’t be common before 2030, but in the 30s, many people will buy expensive androids for assistance or companionship in the home or office. With advanced AI and even emotions, people are very likely to form strong emotional bonds with their androids, so dating them is very likely.” He adds, “An android could have direct networked links to the owner’s nervous system, making sex more fun too. They would have direct access to their sensations, so would know perfectly what is working and what isn’t, optimising their lovemaking techniques to deliver maximum pleasure.”
Advances in artificial intelligence will explode in other directions as well. The report says: “It will become easy to express an idea to an AI just by chatting to it, allowing elaborate on-screen designs to be created before 3D printing a figurine in chocolate.”
Sophisticated 3D modelling and printing techniques could presumably revolutionise lingerie design. Imagine a future world where people are able to print their own lingerie design or customise a template to fit them perfectly, in a range of materials.
Dr Pearson has also conjured up the enticing and fun idea of ‘shoulder angels’. He says: “We’ve all seen cartoons where a character has a demon on one shoulder and an angel on the other, representing the fun and naughty side of their personality versus the sensible well-behaved side. That could be tiny physical drones that accompany the person and actually do live on their shoulders, talking to them with frequent cloud-based wisdom, or virtual characters only visible in augmented reality, again a front end of an AI personality.”
Here’s a mind-blowing thought: by the 2050s, our minds could be fully networked and perhaps uploaded to the cloud. Dr Pearson tells us that, “By using an android as their own body, and still inhabiting the original, it will be easy for narcissists to take themselves out on a date.” Body swapping could become a possibility in the even more distant future, with the option of hiring a younger body, just as you hire an Airbnb home today!
The idea of ‘body swapping’ could prove revolutionary for transgender play. Dr Pearson suggests that a person’s “male side could date their female side. It’s hard to imagine what lovemaking would feel like, being in both bodies at once, but it will certainly be different!” However, the implications of virtual gender changes go much further. Dr Pearson says: “What is even harder is to try imagining the future genders that people will have to choose from, since androids are not confined to male or female, but could have entirely new genders, man-made or AI-made. Once they exist, some humans will want them too, and that will be feasible thanks to cloud extension of mind and our sensory systems.”
So how else could AI enhance our future romantic lives? Dr Pearson predicts the possibility of using android and AI technology for remote contact with a distant lover. He explains: “future dates could be with an android or as an android. Sometimes, both people might be using androids for remote presence, or maybe androids will have such strong AI that they’ll want their own relationships too, so we’ll have to compete for reservations with android couples. Importantly, human-like androids will wear clothes, so some will also receive Valentine’s gifts of sexy lingerie.”
With the purpose and traditions of Valentine’s Day continuing to evolve as we race towards the 22nd century, Dr Pearson concludes that the potential for expressing our love and adoration for a loved one, or a yearned for one, will grow enormously. He states: “One constant in all of this is the importance of gift giving, and that will extend even to lingerie for aliens, fantasy creatures, robots and androids.”
Isla knows a good set of underwear when she sees it. Isla firmly believes that attitude and confidence are the key ingredients to looking just fabulous in your lingerie. She’s also an avid online shopper, capable of spotting a bargain at 20 paces.
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