Europe’s Sex Tech Hackathon took inspiration from ‘American Beauty’ and vaporwave aesthetics to design hands-free wanking and a bed that doubles as a lover
“When you have a wet dream, what body do you have?”
Replicating ethereal bodily feels for an orgasmic VR experience may be an unlikely premise for a sex toy, but here at Europe’s only sex tech hack, flesh-hued dildos and florescent jelly vibrators won’t cut it. Instead, think porn-writing robots programmed with Literotica’s entire backlog, or a 3D printed fist-shaped vibrator that coverts financial data into titillating buzzing – both standout speculations from 2016. Housed in London’s Goldsmiths College over two days and led by academic Dr Kate Devlin, Sex Tech Hackathon II pulled together 50 hackers from across the world for a second year of reworked hardware and beautifully perverse potentials, responding to themes of intimacy, accessibility and personalisation.
Over recent years sex shop shelves have thankfully welcomed more conceptual, ‘smart’ and design-led products that aren’t stuck on porn-like genital replication and battery-powered gimmicks. Name check the founders of MysteryVibe, Crave and a slew of other startups, and you’ll find that women are truly spearheading this change, claiming a stake in the largely male-dominated sex technologies industry, now valued at over $30 billion. As a result, sex toy talk is less about tooling up the apparently saddened, lonely and lacking amongst us, and more about empowerment, exploration and fun.
Below, we chart a select few of the weird and wonderful sex tech blueprints imagined over the weekend that just might spell the future of sexual pleasure.
Anyone who’s viewed the 1999 classic American Beauty has surely fantasised about lying naked on a bed of red roses, with petals falling to caress their newly perfumed body. SuCUMb has rightly recognised a niche to facilitate fully immersive masturbation scenarios that transpose the users body into any fantasy they wish. On laying on a bed cloaked with a custom blanket filled with responsive vibration sensors, with VR-powered large-scale mirror installed in the ceiling, users can see themselves floating in an outdoor pool, for instance, whilst the blanket simulates the feeling of raindrops falling on their body. Or they can view their bodies transformed into a cloud, with people walking through them, the sensation (somehow) translated into vibrations that take you out of your body. Why masturbate in this world when you can start feeling yourself in another?
Softdongs isn’t a sex toy per say. A self-described ‘vaporwave packer designer’, this online interface allows users to customise their own packer – a prosthetic penis often used by some transmasculine people to ease gender dysphoria. Simply adjust the girth, length, colour and scrotum size, and Softdongs will print a 3D mould to create a totally personal silicone packer to create a bulge where there otherwise isn’t one. An urgent solution to a surprisingly overlooked need, the current market generally only offers a few standard models. After all, what could be more awkward than “having the same penis as someone you’re getting frisky with?”
SenseME could simply be described as a bed that could also double as your lover. In a bid to create a better masturbatory experience without having to experience motors or hard materials on the body, SenseME instead explores how air pressure can create the intimate sensations of being squeezed or held. On lying down on a custom mattress, soft hollow plastic tubes can be adjusted to grip the waist, crotch, and ankle, effectively hugging and stroking your body. It’s programmed to respond to your voice too, so when your moans get louder, the bed squeezes you tighter. And if you want to be released, you simply stop moaning. A fuckable bed? Yes, please.
Vibroverse is a sex game that wants to immerse you in a world filled with your fetish obsession. On wearing a VR headset, you’ll first be thrown into a 3D sphere full of random objects – body parts, food, and textures, for example. If you lock eyes with a particular object for more than a few seconds, the game replicates more of that object as it registers it as your ‘preference’, thus creating a world increasingly peppered with whatever turns you on. As the visual density of your fetish increases, vibration pulses are sent via Bluetooth to your sex toy – so the more you look at the object, the stronger the vibrations get. For trippy hands-free wanking this one definitely take the medal.