Companies Explore Potential Benefits of Mind-Controlled Sex Toys
Developers experiment with brain sensors for emerging form of vibrator play.
The developers behind French adult entertainment website Le Tag Parfait [NSFW] are joining the effort to make applications for mind-controlled sex toys.
The project harnesses technology from an open-source “brain-computer interface,” or BCI, a system that senses and analyzes brainwaves. Linked to the popular Internet-connected vibrator Lush from sex toy company Lovense, the developers say their app can read changes in neurological patterns. The patterns are picked up through an electrode in a headband, positioned over the visual cortex behind the brain’s left hemisphere.
Erotic mind control
When the software senses a shift in the pattern, which happens when the person wearing the sensors focuses very hard on one thought, the application can activate the Lush vibrator. The vibrator will turn off when the person wearing the sensor stops focusing.
“You don’t have to touch or see the object to activate it… the sex toy can be anywhere,” says Stephen des Aulnois, co-founder of Paris-based Le Tag Parfait, which launched in 2010 and currently has around 200,000 unique visitors per month.
Working with brain-interface artist Gille de Bast, he tested the application with his co-founder, Carmina, turning the Lush vibrator on and off while she had it inserted. “The point was to make her come just with my mind. It worked pretty well.”
Based in Hong Kong, Lovense got its start when co-founder Dan Liu, then a software developer at telecommunications giant Ericsson, was looking for a way to be intimate with his long-distance girlfriend. The company now sells a suite of four Bluetooth-connected vibrators that can be controlled remotely, with four new products coming, and allows access to its application programming interface, or API, to a select number of developers.
Eddy Olivares, marketing manager at Lovense, says that if someone begins manufacturing and marketing brain sensors for use with Lush, he envisions potentially packaging sensors with the company’s sex toys as an option to control them. If there is enough interest, Lovense would market mind control as a way to use its products.
Having mind control “would be really intimate—only between the person wearing it and the person controlling it,” but only if the technology can advance so that people couldn’t notice someone is wearing the device, Olivares says. The most popular use of the Lush vibrator so far has been for public play.
Widening sexual possibilties
Mind-controlled devices may also help break ground in aiding people with disabilities, sex therapists say. “I’ve worked with a lot of people who couldn’t use their hands, but could concentrate and blink,” says Carolanne Marcantonio, a licensed master social worker and sex therapist based in New York. A vibrator that can be controlled using concentration “has potential to be very helpful to people with limited mobility.”
Existing users of remote-controlled devices say mind control—at least in at first glance—seems like more of a novelty than something they would use often during play. One Lush user, who asked to remain anonymous, said she and her husband enjoy using smartphones to control her vibrator, and questions whether a conspicuous headband could be more convenient than that.
“Part of the fun of public play is being caught off guard, it’s the secret you have that nobody else knows about,” she said. “I’d give it a shot, but it just seems like it would be more difficult than pushing a button on my phone.”
The developers at Le Tag Parfait say they do not plan to monetize the project. “It’s only an experience to show that everything is possible with connected objects, even sex toys,” des Aulnois says. Le Tag Parfait has also experimented with activating sex toys with Twitter hashtags and when the International Space Station is over France. “Whatever you want to do, it’s possible with the Lovense API. You only have to imagine it,” he says.
Experimentation of marketable uses of mind control for sex toys is still in its early stages. At least for now, “there’s no clear benefit” to mind control, Olivares says. “If we were to market it, we would figure out how to make it fun as well for the wearer. I think these toys are about increasing fun for both parties, not just for one.”
Loretta Chao is a reporter covering sex from New York. You can follow her on Twitter @lorettachao.