Sexnology – Sex Technology That Gets You Offby Lorena Nessi, PhD, MA | March 24, 2015
While the more serious in tone are opting for “sextech”, personally I find the term “sexnology” irresistible. While not strictly erotic, it certainly rolls of the tongue in an odd, fun, arguably even kinky manner. Certainly as technology continues to race ahead, the degree to which it relates to our daily lives, physical selves and indeed our sexual identities is only going to increase, so it’s a somewhat new term which is nonetheless likely to stick around for a good while.
A great deal of research is underway concerning the impact of the internet on our sex lives and sexual selves, but much of this is focused around online dating, cybersex, online identities and pornography.
Comparatively little academic work has been done into the nature of sex toys and their sale online, although one notable 15 year review, The Internet’s impact on sexuality by Nicola Doring, does point out that:
“Online sex shops can be classified as a sexual stimulus that triggers various physiological, affective, and cognitive reactions in the user depending on his or her predispositions.”
This suggests then, naturally enough, that the presence of such products being sold and advertised, not to mention discussed and reviewed online will impact the sexual behaviour of those engaging with such online material.
Game-changing technology is out there now, some of which is custom-built to challenge the social norms of sexual behaviour. Take Firebox’s Vibease for example, a company who flaunt their (fairly appropriate) motto Not For Everyone, a discreet and near-silent vibrator designed to be worn “on the go” which can be controlled via one’s smartphone. The app comes with a selection of erotic audio books which can be used in synchronicity with the vibrator. For all those women who never knew they wanted to secretly have orgasms in public, I suppose!
The Vibease can be controlled remotely by an absent partner, and shares this feature in common with many other emergent devices. Competitor OhMiBod’s BlueMotion is a similar project, and the company offer a range of “wearables” as well as an additional range of “music vibrators” for home use which synchronise with your music collection.
Some companies are going exploring further into the social implications of remote controlled sex toys, and designing devices for both men and women which link up to an existing social network whereby one can choose to control or be controlled by a range of strangers over the internet. Taking cybersex to a new plateau, these systems certainly challenge the norms of sexual behaviour, but with a safety switch of being at a physical remove from the other users. Lovepalz encourages new users to “join the club” and enter a chat room where they can choose to private message and sexually interact with any other user on the site.
Frixion goes one step further in offering a beta version of a budget wristband accelerometer, which tracks the movements of your arm or any held object in order to simulate similar movements in another user’s toy at a distance, effectively simulating real physical contact rather than just the timing of a stimulation. This is supposed in theory to allow a more sophisticated range of motions, rhythms and strengths to a remote sexual encounter.
As you can see, the technology is moving apace, and one can only imagine that in another decade or so, as virtual reality tech such as that in the offing with products like Oculus Rift continues to improve, we may be looking at fully immersive virtual sex as a real possibility, bringing with it a veritable Pandora’s Box of questions over sexual identity, sexual ethics, fidelity and indeed further blurring the distinction between the virtual and the physical, between the technological and the sexual.
Döring, N. (2009). The Internet’s impact on sexuality: A critical review of 15years of research Computers in Human Behavior, 25 (5), 1089-1101 DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2009.04.003
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