Want as little skin-on-skin contact as possible or too lazy to control your own vibrator? We chart the bizarre world of sex tech
The world’s oldest pastime doesn’t necessarily need extras to spice it up, but it’s always nice to have a helping hand from technology. Of course, said hand could belong to a soft piezoplastic sexbot, a holographic virtual companion, or whatever else science cooks up in the next decade. People are even speculating that we might become enslaved by robots in a dystopic future – though if you count constant gadgetry and sensory stimulation as masters of the present, then the idea of future robot supremacy isn’t that shocking. We’ve already got lab-grown genitals, a crowd funded blowjob machine and delightfully-named sex tech conferences paving the road towards a strange new future, one in which science and artificial intelligence can accommodate any fetish and sate any market need. In honour of these (necessary?) advancements, we take a look at ten of the most innovative (and bizarre) developments from below the belt.
If mainstream society viewed sex like the totally unforgiving performance sport that it really is, perhaps we’d see more absurd performance-enhancing gear beyond Viagra and horny goat weed – think more along the lines of friction reducers and other, uh, structural appendages. Karmic demand has brought us the Scroguard, a latex sex apron with an amazing infomercial, and may be the first legitimate product to help people avoid as much skin contact as possible.
TELEDILDONICS GOES WIDE
Sex is the future of social networks. First there was Kiiroo, then FriXion, and now there’s the LovePalz Club, a network that allows people to make “new friends” and control their sex toys – listed as a “revolutionary social platform” for pretty much anyone to connect long-distance. And, just like Tinder, it requires mutual user approval before you get to play with each other. The toy in question here is LovePalz’s very own twist, different speeds, vibration patterns, and most importantly (depending whom you ask) the luxury of not having to deal with the physical detritus of a fleshy meatbag partner.
HuMOVE’s intended purpose is to diagnose sexual dysfunction, with obvious potential as a personalized sex tracker. While we’re not sure exactly what HuMOVE’s soft impact will be on fragile relationship dynamics, the social swamp of online dating, and the business side of the sexual health industry, what we do know is that sex wearables are probably going to make things really complicated. Of course, there are more wholesome wearables like the Kissenger, an egg-shaped device that lets you suck face with a remote partner. But nevertheless, sex wearables present quite the forebording future – imagine a world in which OKCupid shows sex metrics (or don’t – it’s scary).
Interactive hologram technology could revolutionize sex entertainment in both public and private, adding an unprecedented level of immersion and engagement that allows for tailor-made sex fantasies. This brilliant piece of holographic magic is called the Leia System and uses water vapour and Leap Motion to add interactivity. Responsive displays are a cornerstone of the world-building toolkit in science fiction, which, in turn, influences the landscape of everything from camgirling to remote sex work. Of course, using a Leia makes a big statement – for personal use, there’s the far more discreet option of holographic glasses.
ANIMATRONICS FOR ADULTS
In their noble work to build better animatronics for the masses, Disney has inadvertently developed a wondrous way to make nice, soft robot arms – perfect for the next generation of cuddly sexbots. Disney roboticists have effectively streamlined robotic limbs by negating the need for bulky motor-slash-actuator parts on the arms (or legs, or some future unthought-of limb system). This means lighter, technically safer robots, all the better for hugging, squeezing, and other recreational things adults do with their robot friends.
BACK UP YOUR PARTNER
Now we come to technology and the ever-expanding definition of infidelity, which has reached new heights of neuroticism this decade. This basically encompasses all the ways in which we keep old lovers as “back-burners” via social networks, or scout around on dating sites just to look at options, including the apparent trend of women keeping a “back-up husband” in case the current one doesn’t work out. While all this seems like a general mutation of the FOMO mind-set, this new social and psychological paradigm will have significant influence over how we view sexual partners, romantic partners, and further unhinge the age-old assumption that sexual and emotional connections go hand-in-hand.
Cuddlr has stepped into the ripe, emotionless void created by modern hook-up culture – it’s an app for people who just want to snuggle. Although it’s still not really clear whether Cuddlr is supposed to be a gateway drug to the wild dimension of sex – perhaps a tongue-in-cheek jab at Grindr and its ilk, and then there’s also the ugly potential for all sorts of lawsuits, thanks to crap people out there who just don’t deserve nice things. Bottom line is, it just wants you to cuddle with people (“even people you don’t find attractive,” says the website), because cuddling never hurt anyone.
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE? OR NOT...
Mood alteration is probably the closest thing we have to alchemy, except when it comes to sex – although changing someone’s mood does raise some tetchy ethical questions. Thync is a new mood regulation start-up whose prototype headgear makes light tweaks to a person’s mood – ostensibly for the better. The website isn’t especially forthcoming on details, it seems Vibes are targeted to specific neural pathways using advanced biomaterials engineered to achieve optimal results. So, as it stands, not quite the ideal level of transparency we’d expect from a cranial wearable that plays crazy chemist with your feels, but interesting nonetheless.
All right, this isn’t a development specific to sex, but overall improvements in the tasting and kinetic capabilities of artificial tongues can only mean a whole new world of excellent sex toys, can it not? A new type of tongue has been engineered specifically to taste wine tannins, but who’s to say the next generation of lab-grown lickers won’t benefit from this tech? Enhanced sense capabilities, combined with texture-sensing technology, could add a whole new dimension to consumer sex toys.
GOOD OLD-FASHIONED TELEPRESENCE MACHINE
Telepresence machines are probably the most realistic, mainstream things to mark any predicted list for the near future, because we already live so much of our lives projecting compartmentalized facets of our personality into different gadgets and digital platforms. But telepresence has something of an old-timey feel - this is the kind of science fiction that we saw on-screen in the 80s, and are finally seeing come to life.