Are Patents to Blame for Stalling Teledildonics?
Seeking solutions for more futuristic, long-distance love gadgets and social networks.
When the RealTouch [NSFW] interactive device came out in 2009, it was hailed as the future of sex—a way for a man to get it on remotely with an adult video star or live model. Five years later, you’re lucky if you can buy one secondhand.
After getting sued for patent infringement by Hassex, Inc. and New Frontier Technologies Corporation in 2010, the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network couldn’t afford licensing and manufacturing the RealTouch. So the company stopped selling the product in January 2014.
Patent rights dashed many people’s wet dreams. And they may still be thwarting innovation for other people who make and use teledildonics.
At Future of Sex, we’re trying to get to the bottom of the patent issues and what’s holding back the creation of better, more advanced robotic sex toys. We want to see if there are any solutions that would push momentum forward.
Sure, some folks say a niche audience is the cause—there’s not enough demand for the technology. But I agree with fellow Future of Sex writer Damon Brown when he told Salon.com he envisions a future with sex machines so amazingly immersive we don’t realize them around us.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some promising devices out there. The OhMiBod [NSFW] remote-controlled vibrator and Orgasmatronics’s [NSFW] “bionic” strap-on dildo are only two of them. I’m just ready for more innovation and variety.
Figuring out the Patents
The patent that sunk the RealTouch is the same one with a grip over Kiiroo’s [NSFW] teledildonic toys. Now it’s a mouthful, so get ready for it: Method and device for interactive virtual control of sexual aids using digital computer networks.
According to Kiiroo co-founder Toon Timmermans, the people at Vstroker [NSFW] hold this patent in the United States. He’s been working out a deal with them so his company can sell its devices in that country.
“It’s a pretty wide patent. It’s a really old patent. Nowadays the patent would be more specific,” Timmermans told Future of Sex last March.
It was first filed in 1998 and invented by Warren J. Sandvick, Jim W. Hughes, and David Alan Atkinson.
The patent summary describes it as “a system that permits an operator to have interactive control of a sexual aid used to stimulate a recipient that is remotely located from the operator.”
It also allows users to interact with prerecorded video feed.
Reading through the 11-page document gave my head a buzz, particularly after learning about a similar, yet different patent named Visual remote control and tactile interaction system.
Filed in 2002 by inventor Vivien Johan Cambridge, it also connects two people in separate locations as well as one person with computer game software.
The invention relies on an input device that “measures the displacement of a fluid that occurs when an object is inserted into an orifice to create digital data.” The data is sent to a remote recipient or used in software on a nearby computer. It then creates a matching thrusting movement on a phallic object.
Cutting through the legalese, it appears the first patent covers sending a signal from a model’s device or a coded adult video to a man's device. He simply receives the pleasureful movements.
The second patent seems to cover the opposite. Here the man looks to be in control of a phallic object, like a Diltron sex machine or the action in a sex video, by using the Interactive Fleshlight. He is in charge of the movements.
If you notice my language is a bit hesitant, it is! I’ve been trying to get clarification on the patent wording from people holding the rights and experts in the field. But getting people to talk to me about what the patents cover exactly has been like pulling teeth.
What’s Really Happening?
There could be a number of reasons why people who used to chat to me about patents are no longer talking—and for why emails to rights holders are going unanswered.
Certain interactive sites like Stroker Sex and Do It Christyle seem to have stopped operating. Maybe new deals are going down and different remote sex sites will pop up in the future.
Of course, this is speculation. I’m just hoping that budding social networks for remote sex, such as those being developed by Kiiroo and FriXion, aren’t squashed before they really get off the ground.
The more mainstream teledildonics become, the more likely it is that we’ll have the high tech and immersive sex experiences from science fiction
Got any insights into the patent situation? Have solutions to suggest? Please leave a comment below or tweet to us [email protected]
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This might explain why it’s so f- . . freaking impossible to find any good long-distance remote sex devices which aren’t tied to blisteringly-limited “smart”phone devices. What an absolute shame. As it stands, from all I’ve been able to find online, I need to emulate an Andriod operating system on my computer to run an app that requires Google+ on a pair of “smart”phones to actually get the ohmibod to work from the comfort and security of my personal computer. That is a VERY serious problem, frankly. This technology should be helping people get closer to the ones they want to be closest with, not closer to Google-corp.
Hi Salacious Prurience, thanks for the comment. Have you hear about KIIROO? They offer teledildonic devices that can be used through their own platform on Mac and Windows. It’s like a FB for remote sex, though I have no firsthand experience with it. I’m not sure about reviews at this point as it’s quite new. I did hear some complaints about crashing, but that could have been sorted out. I’d love to know if the KIIROO platform offers a better user experience. The devices themselves seem to get good reviews, and appear to be an improvement over the defunct RealTouch. If you do learn about or try any other devices and their apps/platforms, please let me know! I’m always curious to learn more.
If you genuinely want to know the real story on this entire industry sector, and the history of teledildonics, haptic technology, and the world’s first Virtual Sex Machine, you can talk to me. Feel free to check the USPTO for my company’s name on the patent as prior art, and the trademark “Virtual Sex Machine.” You are missing the best parts of the story.
Hi Eric. Thanks for getting in touch. Can you email me at [email protected] so we can continue this discussion?
Thanks for the email! I responded but got a delay notification saying my message couldn’t be delivered, but attempts will be made to resend it over the next two days. Hopefully it arrives soon. If not, please do let me know if there is a better way to contact you.
The first over the internet devices were used by ifriends live cam models about 15 years ago. Referred to then as CyberDildonics. These communicated not with a socket but actually used a chat room type of plug in that allowed a user to control four boxes in the shape of a square and choose patterns and colors which in turn could allow changes in the energy flow from the batteries to the device.. The battery power of the toy the model would use, in this communication between the viewer and the mode’s toyl, could be manipulated via the toy’s “eye,. Basically this extra service that ifriends featured which was a battery operated vibrator that had a power interrupt and would decrease and could be controlled when connected via a small photoelectric eye. The eye would then allow pulses of power based upon what the “eye” saw. So a more intense darker color for example would then allow more power to the toy and the vibration increased. The four boxes could be set to pulse patterns and there by controlled over the internet by the viewer making waves of high and low pulses. Or rhythmic pulses . The models could charge more for this ability and the viewer had some control over the model and what kind of manipulation she would get. There were a few different available types of devices. One was an actual penis looking vibrator that would enlarge by an inch and retract which would also be manipulated. Basically the pace of the thrusts and the intensity of the vibration could be controlled or so was the idea. The person who invented this idea actually is the first idea that used an internet connection. So the company suing everyone is actually just a more advanced copy cat of someone elses idea anyway. The patent does seem at first glance to be a bit abstract for the technology guidelines. However it does not mention the use of other types of connections such as attaching a remote controlled device to the screen via wireless technology so I think there may be room to invalidate their claim. I FIRST USED ONE IN 1998. I was a model on the ifriends website and won a device in a contest they had.
Thanks for sharing this information. It would be great to see a pic of what you explain. Do you know the name of the person who invented this and if the particular Cyberdildoincs device you describe has a name?
http://hbkoplowitz.com/LIC/dildonics/index.html this page has the whole evolution of the idea and the names of the inventors. Towards the bottom of the page is the infr about WebPower who owned Ifriends and who partnered with the marketing by Safesex.com . It pretty much proves who is the one who did it first!.