Meet the teledildonics, an ingenious species of bi-directionally controlled sextoys from the future, available today. These touch emulating vibrators find each other on social sex networks to, in accordance with the preferred embodiment, perform two-way interactive sessions that interface controls to the stimulation device(s) located at, well, your body.
Tuning into our current research on how technology radically alters our attitude towards reproduction, gender, relationships and love in the 21st century, we caught up with the team from Amsterdam-based teledildonic manufacturer Kiiroo to learn more about modern dating, tactile sensations, and the future of long distance love. Because nothing says “I love you” like teledildonics.
"Intimacy is something that is constantly evolving"
The term ‘teledildonic’ stems from the mid-70s, and made a public entrance in the late 80s, to become the promise of 90s cybersex. Yet today, teledildonics still remain in a niche. It seems that the world is still not ready for this sexual revolution. However with the current trend of exponential technology, I wonder: How will exponential technology change our relationship with sex?
Change is a powerful word. We will not change our current relationship with sex, but rather enhance it. Intimacy is something that is constantly evolving. People find new things that interest them in the bedroom, and when distance separates couples, people get creative with how they keep the spark alive.
We went from phone sex, to Skype sex, and now the use of teledildonics to mimic sex, and we have even come so far as to have sex in 3D/VR in real time.
Nothing will ever replace the power of emotion that you feel when you are with your loved one, but technology will definitely enhance those feelings and generate excitement.
Early sexual, yet political technology (read: anti conception) disconnected sex from reproduction. New technology seems to disconnect intimacy from sex. How does the Kiiroo product contribute to a new societal perspective on recreational sex with technology?
Kiiroo initially created the “Kiiroo Couple Set” in 2013/2014 to help bring couples who were in long-distance relationships closer together. As a company, we know that nothing will ever replace real intimacy, and the feeling of being with your significant other, but we created the closest possible form of intimacy that you can have through the Internet.
Now, a few years later, our devices and technology are being used for an array of recreational activities. Webcam performers use interactive devices in live webcam performances, getting tipped by customers sends tips to the devices to make them vibrate or stroke in real time corresponding to tip amounts. We have interactive erotic content in 2D and VR that syncs seamlessly to all of our devices.
"We went from phone sex, to Skype sex, and now the use of teledildonics to mimic sex"
How does Kiiroo see the relationship between sex and technology? And how has this relationship changed over time, and how will it change in the future?
We see the relationship between sex and technology as constantly evolving. Technology will never replace real intimacy, but it is opening the doors for self-expression, comfort and exploration in the bedroom and also promoting safer sex at the same time. We can learn a lot through technology, and technology will always be an accompaniment rather than a replacement.
Technology holds the potential to facilitate intimate, yet emotional experiences from a distance. One way to put it, is that Kiiroo is facilitating such intimate encounters. How does technology add to our understanding of intersubjective relationships?
Technology enables us to explore and connect with each other to a greater degree than before. It creates a platform or a safe space where we are able to interact with each other to a different degree than we were previously able to. Communication is experienced differently once there is touch involved from a distance; you get to communicate in ways you never thought you could. Thus, maintaining a closer bond with each other. You are also able to explore fantasy lands together where you are subjected to an array of choices to your liking in a safe and comfortable space.
Also, as we have become more of a world that tends to live lives online, we find more comfort in learning about a person before actually being with them.
Then how do tactile (technological) sensations play a role in governing our sexual activities?
Being touched is one of the most personal intimate experiences someone can have. Combined with other senses, touch can be a very powerful experience leading to some powerful emotions and reactions. Multiple stimuli need to be stimulated in order to amplify sensations; touch, visual, audio - if you combine them the sensations become more real and powerful than if you just have one.
If you think about smell for instance; smelling certain things can trigger certain emotions. Like when you smell a perfume that your ex-boyfriend used to wear, this triggers emotions – whether happy, sad, angry etc. Technology like the Kiiroo devices can do this too, it triggers those feelings that you couldn’t feel from your partner without them actually being in the same space.
"Sex toys are opening up the doors to new ways of experiencing sex"
How does modern dating influence new sexualities?
Technology makes it easier to find likeminded people, who may have the same sexual preference as you, the same fetishes, the same beliefs and more. Forums, groups, etc. create same places for people to find likeminded others. It’s the same for interactive sex toys; people use Reddit, Craigslist and more to find other teledildonic toy users.
Sex toys are opening up the doors to new ways of experiencing sex. You can have sex before you meet, with different people before meeting for the first time. Technology allows people to meet for the first time in a safe space.
If for instance, you live in Australia, and your partner lives in London, the time difference is huge. Your partner in London can record an interactive session and you can play it in your time zone and your partner can play it in theirs. We’re blurring the boundaries.
VR livestream in a new and exciting setting is very intimate too. You can decide how the room looks and influence all kinds of things that will make this experience closer and more intimate while your partner(s) are 1000kms away.
Modern dating’s influence on new sexualities to sum up - we feel that technology is allowing us to explore who we are in such detail that it gives us the self-freedom to become who we needed to become, not who society told us to be, not how society told us to be, but who we are.
"Technology will enhance feelings of emotion and generate excitement"
In a world heavily filtered through screens, we start to experience intimacy (and touch, for that matter) as a virtual experience as well. Even relationships and love are becoming virtual practice. Are we striving for relationships in a not-so-relational world?
The answer to this can be two-fold. we don’t think everyone will have a similar stance on technology in a long-standing relationship, and technology to forge new relationships.
On one hand, we have technology that is aiding relationships that have been separated for one reason or another, to help them keep the spark alive for that period of time that they are apart. On the other hand, we have relationships that start through the Internet and transpire to become something more and more concrete or fizzle out at a point.
We have become an Internet connected society, we are constantly on our phones, on the Internet and constantly watching our screens, it was inevitable that technology would creep its way into our bedrooms.
We have become this society that spends more of our lives on Facebook or Instagram where we have found a space of belonging in a not so relational world. But we have to look at it in the eyes of someone who is not me or you, perhaps someone that has been isolated due to disease or disability or work, not everyone has found a sense of belonging in the world, so it’s only natural that we turn to technology to create a safe space or a comfortable space for ourselves in a world that may not be our own, but it is the world where we can be ourselves.
"It was inevitable that technology would creep its way into our bedrooms"
Teledildonics hold the psychopharmacological possibility of “de-gendering” the human brain using technology (considering gender is a construct). How do you relate to a post-gender world and how can teledildonics highlight the breadth and variety of human gender, sex, and sexuality?
With VR for instance, you can be a gender that is not your own; you can see a woman or man’s body and experience how it is to see your body as a different sex. Combining it with devices you can enhance that experience. It will be possible to experience new adventures. VR games are even more de-gendered, you chose the person you want to be.
The same goes with the devices, some (not all) can be used by multiple genders, for multiple reasons to stimulate different areas of the body and can connect to an array of interactive content that spans across an array of sexual preferences.
How do you relate to the concept of objectification (using technology) in terms of human connectedness?
Technology by definition objectifies as we do refer to technology as an object, it’s something we use not something we (not everyone) are connected to. If you as a person are not there, but there is a representation of you, I may not see you as real. But, if you are interacting with me and we form a connection through technology, there is ample room to form a connection.
Modern sex toys seem to have evolved towards slick, high-end design (household) objects. What’s the main challenge of teledildonic design today?
The entire industry is becoming more sex positive and more aware of the things we put in and around our body. High-end designs that may look like a speaker etc. are mainly for reasons of discretion at home. As sex and the use of sex toys is still quite a taboo topic in many households, we have found the more discreet, compact and travel friendly a device is, the more people will consider buying it. Some designs are so big and bulky that it deters people from even considering buying it.
Materials also play a huge part in the design of high-end devices; medical grade silicone, biodegradable materials, body safe materials all need to be considered when creating new devices.
"If you stay ahead of the game, the undesirable futures can be avoided"
Linking to undesirable futures of new sex toys that are vulnerable to hackers, what would be undesirable for this teledildonic future? (even if it is commercially exploitable?)
Over the last few years we have seen a number of teledildonic toys get hacked, and companies have had major issues with data being retrieved and more.
As a company, it is vital to keep privacy and security as the utmost importance in order to avoid what we may consider undesirable futures.
The most undesirable future would probably be being hacked, but that is why we work with a Bug Bounty Program and Hacker1 to ensure that our systems and devices are not vulnerable to negative external hacking.
If you stay ahead of the game, the undesirable futures can be avoided.
Does me using Kiiroo devices make me a cyborg?
Haha definitely not. The definition of cyborg is “a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.” Our devices are not implanted into the body.