When someone cheats on a partner with an Internet relationship, one of the usual defenses is “We never even touched each other.” If there is nothing physical going on, the argument goes, then I did not really cheat on you.
However, certain new high-tech sex toys now make it possible for two people to simulate sex – with all its physical feelings and emotions – by using remote controlled devices and the Internet. These toys use the science of haptic technology – with haptic technology defined as the place where technology and touch intersect. For example, if you use a fake gun when you play a video game and the gun vibrates and shakes whenever you shoot it, you are using haptic technology.
One such new toy is called “Fundawear” from Durex, a condom company in Australia. Durex is now testing Fundawear garments that look like bra and panty sets for women, and briefs for men. There’s just one exception – the garments have special sensory devices built into them that respond with a shock of feeling when another other person touches buttons on a remote control. In other words, each time you touch a certain button on your device, your partner receives a little “touch” sensation in one of his or her erotic zones, as long as he is wearing Fundawear. You can chat and flirt while you play Fundawear, and the video stream enables you to see your partner’s reactions.
A similar toy for partners involves the Nintendo Wii system. The toy includes a vibrator toy for women and a ring men can wear over their penises so that enable partners to sexually stimulate each other in real time using Wii controls.
While some people consider looking at pornography to be a form of cheating, a new toy for men takes the process one step further. “The Real Touch,” invented by a NASA engineer, allows men to insert their penises into a device that is synchronized with a pornographic film so that what he sees on screen is what he feels “down there.” This toy has been available since 2004 and costs about $140 plus a charge to rent each specialized video.
Even better technology to simulate sex will be available in the next few decades. People will wear full-immersion sex suits that can transmit sensory information, while allowing each them to experience their partners as if they were in the same room together. Just like in Star Trek, you will be able to beam up a partner into your bed for remote sex. Sheets and sleepwear will have specialized fibers that reproduce all the feelings of a sexual experience.
Dr. Sandi Varnado, a professor of law at Loyola University in New Orleans, has written articles about the implications of such new technology on current laws concerning marriage and adultery. Traditionally, a partner who can prove adultery often had an advantage in court, especially in child custody debates. Dr. Varnado believes that an online extra-marital relationship may someday qualify as adultery if it is frequent, intense and sexual, and if it is partly to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. She writes that, “Online infidelity is confounding how we define some of our most basic beliefs about sex, intimacy and relationships.”
And there is no doubt that the new haptic technology will confound these definitions even more.
Morgan, Gregg. “Durex unveil ‘Fundawear’ internet touch experiment for long-distance lovers,” The UK Telegraph, April 18, 2013.
Weiss, Robert. “Is Virtual Sex a Blessing or a Curse?”
Varnado, Sandi. Avatars, Scarlet “A”s and Adultery in the Technological Age, The Arizona Law Review, Summer 2013, pg. 380- to 415.