OMGYes, once you’re through its paywall, offers eleven interactive chapters of information devoted to bringing anyone who has a vagina to orgasm. Each chapter includes multiple videos, and that’s where things get interesting: We meet each actual woman whose responses OMGYes collected as part of their nationwide survey, and each woman tells us exactly how she brings herself to orgasm, and gives us a little background on how the lack of sexual information during her lifetime left her at a disadvantage.

Then, an interactive close-up “video” of each woman’s vagina loads on the screen, and the user is encouraged to repeat the steps described earlier in the lesson, using his or her mouse. The digital genitalia moves when you move it, and each choice garners an auditory response from that chapter’s subject. To be perfectly honest, the experience is bizarre, as if listed from some futuristic society where everyone knows exactly how to please women.

Inverse spoke with Rob Perkins, one of OMGYes’ co-founders, to discuss how he’s used technology to create such a unique website, and how he envisions the work helping women and their partners.

My first impression of the site is that it’s a very intense experience. It takes some getting used to, watching women pleasure themselves candidly, and gathering instructional information from each video. Did you anticipate the site being uniquely honest that way?

Well, my original thought was that the way sex and pleasure are portrayed in contemporary media differs completely from anything that happens to us in real life. Characters on television and in films don’t often have conversations about sex the way that real people often do.

Lydia Daniller and I were in college together, and we were often a part of group conversations where everyone would discuss what did or didn’t work during sex. You could tell people were like sponges then, soaking up all the information they could get, because it was so rare for anyone to be that candid.

Is your background in sex research, or technology?

I actually studied neuroscience, but I didn’t pursue it professionally after school. Lydia has this superpower, where she’s able to make everyone in a group comfortable. You know, everyone has a friend who can talk about really personal things and make the room open up, and it’s not awkward. Well, Lydia is that person. She inspires fascinating conversations.

Our thought was, in this time when we all think we’re so progressive, and we think most sexual taboos are gone, well, there’s still room to grow and make progress. We weren’t thinking, “oh, we’re going to make something that pertains to sex”, we were discussing how sexual health experts are still saying everyone’s different when it comes to pleasure. It’s like, “WELP, that’s it, case closed, all women are different, conversation over!” We created this company in order to do that research and find out if there were patterns no one was talking about.

I notice you frame each woman in flattering lighting and talk to her a bit before she gets into instruction. To be honest, it reminds me of the way many pornographic films begin with an interview. Is that intentional?

The women on our site are the subjects, they’re not the objects. Our videos don’t then switch to watching them do things; they’re telling their experiences and insights and sharing their truths. I don’t see any similarity between that and porn. You could argue that news programs interview people, but you wouldn’t draw a comparison there either.

How did your team decide to include each of these techniques? Were they the top answers on a survey, or did you pick terms like “layering” and “orbiting” because of anatomical reasons?

The main reason we made this website, which was bigger than the original intent, was because we wanted funding to do research on this topic. All the scientific and academic research on sex has been either behavioral stuff, really general, or really specific stuff physiology full of anatomical jargon which isn’t helpful to a regular person, like “the pelvic floor moves in this particular way in phase seven of…”, you know. Scientists are too close to the subject, and I think it scares people, and institutions, to talk about touching and sensation. We talked to over 1,000 women in in-depth interviews, then partnered with researchers at Indiana University and The Kinsey Institute to survey 1000 more women, ages 18-95.

We found that many really consistent insights kept popping up again and again. “I wish I had known this sooner,” is a phrase we hear a lot from subjects in the study. A lot of them didn’t have words or names for the movements they were already using. In our culture, descriptions of sex acts are left to Urban Dictionary and stand-up comedians who come up with the slang. Or, you’ll see a book with cutesy names, those Cosmo-esque sex tips, and none of those reflect actual women’s insights.

We developed the names, but each one reflects a pattern we discovered over and over. So many women were telling us, “I didn’t know the motion needs to stay the same - consistency - before orgasm,” for example.

I have never seen anything like your touchable images, especially with feedback. Can you describe how you developed that part of the program?

So, when we did all this research, we found that the best way to discover new things which work for most people in bed isn’t from reading bulleted tips. There’s a big gap, cognitively, between words on a page and the actual situation of touching yourself or touching a partner. There’s a whole world in between those things. We thought, couldn’t we make something that exists between reading and exploring and actually doing?

When a friend tells you her experience and she’s vulnerable about it, you remember that information very differently than a magazine saying “hey there, try these four things tonight!” The interactive images are an educational tool.

We wanted a way to practice, because you practice just about everything else. Before you go to the club and try something out, you’re probably going to try it out in the mirror a few times. We want to change the way people think about this stuff. These are real concepts, you can get feedback, and it’s not giggle-y and blush-y. It’s useful.

I wasn’t giggling while using the site, but I was definitely blushing. Do the women on your site decide what phrases they’re going to record, for the live video feedback, or is that scripted?

That process was really fun. Lydia led the whole thing. It was years of development, this site, so at one point, we put blankets over our subject’s partner, and that partner went down on the woman and we recorded the way she was giving feedback in real time. That’s what that audio is.

In movies, sex is pretty much wham-bam-orgasm, and there isn’t a lot of talking. A lot of people don’t talk in bed because they think it’ll ruin the mood. In fact, there are a lot of very non-awkward ways of guiding your partner in what you like. Again, I know that if you just read the words: there are comfortable ways to guide your partner!, that’s not helpful. But we wanted to model and show 12 different styles of feedback, and none of them include turning the lights on and saying “We need to have a conversation!”

We thought if we modeled those real-life sounds for people, it would make more sense.

I’ve been interviewing those who work in the sex industry, and in related technological advances. Most people seem to believe technology will only improve intimacy and not depersonalize it. Do you agree?

Like anything else technological, you could say Facebook has brought us together in new ways, but it’s also pulled us apart. As you gain something in development, you lose something else.

We don’t consider ourselves sex tech the way companies who make vibrators do. We’re interested in the topic of sex, but we’re a lot more of a research company trying to make research findings into something that’s useful and relevant to a larger audience. We’re not trying to create products or strategies that you actually use in bed to make sex different. We’re just finding and reporting them. We want people to discover what works for them and how to communicate, and then take that information and do what they’re gonna do.

You brought up porn earlier, right? It’s tempting, with something completely new, to draw comparisons to other, more familiar, things. Are we similar to app-vibrators? Are we similar to porn? We want to be considered alongside those who frame their research outside of academic journals, because we’re researchers above all else. Most people don’t benefit from works filled with jargon, and it doesn’t really change anyone’s behavior. We want our research to be public and accessible in order to change people’s lives.

Photos via OMGYes