Oculus Rift 'Gender Swap': Virtual Reality Headset Lets You Change Bodies With Your Partner [NSFW VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on January 22, 2014 4:18 PM EST

oculus rift
The Gender Swap experiment allows users to experience being in the body of their partner, using Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. (Photo: Flickr: sergesegal)

An art experiment in Spain is giving participants the chance to swap bodies with their partners using Oculus Rift, a head-mounted virtual reality system. In the mind-bending experiment, two partners wearing Oculus Rift headsets mimic one another's movements, so that when the partners look down, he or she sees their partner's body. The experiment is taking place at the L'estruch Cultural Center in Sabadell, Spain, but if can't make it there you'll have to wait a while to try it at home: Oculus Rift won't be commercially available until the end of this year or early next year.

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In the experiment, which you can see in the NSFW video below, one partner (known as the "user") sees a live video stream of the movements of his partner (known as the "performer"). The user follows mirrors the movements of the performer, so that when he looks down at his body, he sees the female performer's body instead. The performer's voice is streamed into the user's headset, furthering the illusion that the user is experiencing life in their partner's body.

The point of the Oculus Rift experiment isn't to just engage in something cool (thought it most certainly is cool). Rather, experiment, which is called Gender Swap, is meant to make users think about issues like gender identity, queer theory, and mutual respect. Gender Swap is part of a larger project called The Machine To Be Another, which bills itself as an "Open Source Art investigation on the relation of Identity and Empathy."

"The 'Machine' offers users the possibility of interacting with a piece of another person's life story by seeing themselves in the body of this person and listening to his/her thoughts inside their mind," reads the Machine To Be Another site, referring to the goal of the project as a whole (and not just Gender Swap). "Our main interest through this approach is to use the 'Machine' as a tool to help promoting empathy among individuals of different social, cultural and ideological contexts."

Oculus Rift recently took home the Best of CES Award from the prestigious Nevada consumer electronics show. The system is currently only available for developers, but they've already created some pretty cool uses for it, such as controlling robots. (The video game site GameSpot has rounded up more non-gaming uses.) When Oculus Rift is finally available to the public, it is likely to blow your mind, as it did for this 90-year-old grandmother who took it for a test drive. Look at how happy it makes her!

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