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Sex over distance using affordable consumer teledildonic robots (vice.com)
99 points by frixionme on Nov 23, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 95 comments

Let's face it, being a senior citizen in 25+ years is going to be amazing. I can't wait to retire and just have Viagra fuelled cyber VR sex all day. Take a drag of my e-cig after and sent some bitcoins to my grand kids.

That's fine for you but... I'm horrified at what your grand kids will have access to.

That future is already here. Reading the book "Pornland" by Gail Dines was both shocking and informative. You can be horrified right now at what kids are consuming.

It seems from most of her public output that Dines' primary goal is to horrify, more so than to reliably inform.


is one example of an article critiquing her work.

Have you read any of her books?

Given her general alarmist tone and the fact that I can find plenty of critiques of her failure to give a voice to bodies of evidence that arguably contract her conclusions, but not rebuttals, I'm not sure why I'd want to.

I did, admittedly, manage to find


which appears to point out that she consulted meta-studies ... on the other hand, it also indicates that (a) she's comfortable referring to spanking as physical abuse (b) she explains that "My failure to give a detailed definition of porn, or my refusal to celebrate porn as a diverse set of cultural products, comes not from laziness or oversight but a commitment to a radical political economy."

... and it ends with "So please don’t ask us radical feminists to waste our time coming up with scholarly definitions. We have an industry to close down."

Which seems to suggest that she believes that when you're trying to argue that X is bad, defining X clearly is a waste of time.

I ... really don't think I can see a reason to want to read her books now.

In this case, I'll find it completely acceptable to disregard you.

If you're going to choose to ignore a comment by someone who's actually bothered to read her 165-page book (which includes 200+ references) in favor of googling some web articles that support a position of ignoring feminist critiques of porn, in all likelihood you don't care about improving society for women.

I am taking a strong tone because your comment seems to say that if you believe feminism is bad, giving time to thoroughly investigate feminism is clearly a waste of time.

Part of the problem that I have is her choice to automatically dismiss any sex-positive feminist critiques - which you're implicitly doing too by calling hers a feminist critique rather than including the sex-negative tag required to provide a reasonably accurate pointer at the form of feminism behind the critique.

I've done plenty of reading on both sex-positive and sex-negative feminisms' attitudes towards porn, but Dines' mixture of disingenuous reframing and shrill moralising reminds me more of anti-abortion activists than anything else and contributes rather more to my opinion of Gail Dines than my opinion of the more rational sex negative critiques of porn.

(I'd recommend the blog series Prude's Progress - it's not a porn critique but an excellent exploration of sex negativity fully thought through)

I'm upvoting you for linking to Prude's Progress which looks like somebody trying to think critically about something. And also for the change in tone. I'll try to match you as best I can.

I think the notions of 'sex-positive' and 'sex-negative' are kind of weird, personally. When I read those terms, my mind tends to translate it into "people who think mainstream pornography is fine" and "those who think mainstream pornography has issues."

I guess what I feel is missing from the comments you've made so far is your personal attitude towards pornography. It's easy for all of us to criticize this or that thinker, but it's much harder (and more painful) to introspect and consider what our own attitudes say about us.

Let me volunteer to go first: I've consumed a great deal of pornography in the past, and it's only this year that I stopped in earnest. Looking at pornography made me feel depressed, disconnected from my feelings, and I noticed that it made it hard for me to relate to women in my daily life. Not 'hard to relate' like I couldn't talk to them, but in that I felt uncomfortable talking to somebody as a human being when I'd just watched images that really degraded them.

Now, I was raised in a very liberal Scandinavian country, and my parents are far from prudes. Neither of my parents demonized sex, and growing up, they always said "it's okay if you do it, just make sure you use protection." So the discomfort I felt in looking at porn didn't come from being raised in a moralistic, Bible-thumping household.

When I read Gail Dines book, I find my own thoughts reflected back to me. I find your label of "shrill moralising" somewhat offensive, but you may also be offended by some of the things that I am saying.

Also, and this is important to me, I think it's very possible to get too rational about the whole discussion. You referenced "rational sex negative critiques of porn." I am fine with logic and reason, but I often notice that people who focus too much on rational arguments are avoiding a frank discussion about their own emotions or the emotions of the women being discussed.

Anyway, if you've read this much, thank you. Hopefully you have a better understanding of my perspective now.

There's a lot more to both sex-positive and sex-negative discourse than their opinions on pornography, and even those opinions are generally more nuanced than 'fine' versus 'has issues' (the pervocracy blog's ongoing excoriation of fifty shades of bad consent is an example of sex-positive critique, to my mind).

I'd note also that I didn't intend to call your words shrill moralising; any offence involved was supposed to be directed only at Gail Dines' writing style.

I think ... mostly I think that an HN comment thread isn't going to be nearly an optimal vehicle for the relatively deep discussion I think we'd need to have just to get as far as having a shared set of terminology with which to debate things. If you think that it's worth continuing to try, mst at shadowcat.co.uk will reach me and we can take it from there.

At some point along this future, the question might be "What grandkids?"

Lets be honest kids are a hassle anyway

> from a sex tech company called FriXion

Nice name. It has an obvious connection to the product, and if you want to give out pens with the name on them you don't have to pay for custom printing [1]!

[1] http://www.pilotpen.us/Brands/FriXion.aspx


Interesting to see if Pilot would choose to pursue a trademark-infringement case. "Yes, your honor, we think our writing implements can be reasonably confused with a sex robot."

"People will think our pen is a penis."

Sorry, I had to.

Applicable quote from the website, "We Specialize In Wood".

If Pilot Pens starting making a auto-signing machine pen, I could see someone getting a tad confused.

It's also the name of a British boy band, which raises interesting marketing possibilities :)

I wonder if the use of this technology by a paid webcam model on a client would constitute prostitution.

Or what the social ramifications would be of having an omegle/chat-roulette style chat system where people could have sex with anonymous strangers over the internet at a moment's notice without any fear of pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

Let's get this party started... http://whois.net/whois/teledildonicroulette.com

Well, "sex". This is probably nowhere near the real thing.

But supposing it was, the ramifications would be interesting to explore. This is the stuff good sci-fi is made of.

Some items from the video that were not mentioned in the article: One to many interactions, Record and replay experiences, Pre-recorded games/videos.

Of course, none of the above should really be a surprise but they still caught me off-guard.

Possibilities really open up with the telemetry translation api -- realizing that the telemetry is digital, and only has to be encoded once to be read for any purpose for any supported device is huge. We expect to be very busy for a long time fleshing out all the applications we have in mind. One that we're working on is using a users webcam to monitor heart rate (similar to the xbox one + kinect) and use that information to create a soft vibration that pulses in their partners device in time, so when one gets "excited" the other can feel the haptic feedback and vice versa simultaneously..

This is some real scifi stuff we're doing and it's very exciting

Have you talked through what the company will do once developers start creating FriXion experiences with virtual children? Are you taking a hands-off approach (no pun intended) to what people do with the technology, or do you plan on vetting each application? If presented with an abuse scenario, would you cooperate with law enforcement to find who is "connecting" with (or creating) these children? I'm not knocking the tech or your intention to make a fun product - just throwing out some important questions.

Upvote for "fleshing out".

Very interesting ideas. I can only imagine how far this concept can be taken.

This is the future. I hope this would be a platform where developers could use the API and create more sci fi stuffs. Also, where can i hack on this api?

So Justin Bieber could have sex with all his Twitter followers simultaneously.


I'm horrified by the possibility, perhaps even a near-certainty, that there probably is fanfic on the internet somewhere outlining how this might happen and what the experience would be like.

wow - that's really possible ... it simply had never crossed my mind but like a catflap - once the idea is explained it stays in.

it makes no difference if it is Justin Bieber or if they send out a signal and tell you it is Justin Bieber, or if you just turn on the machine and think of Justin Bieber.

There's really nothing social to this particularly.

I'm imagining Bieber standing in front of a giant wall of monitors on a huge video conference with thousands of followers. It would be real time and his actions would obviously originate from him.

(Why am I imagining this?!)

haha this is great, the banter around here has been about how this could help fundamentalist mormons be able to have sex with all of their wives in their various houses at the same time. For publicity it would be great to have popular stars like James Deen using the robots to reach out to hundreds/thousands of his fans, or even shoot it in the same room -- have a line up of partners that he can interact with all simultaneously. It works the other way too, a woman could please many men at the same time -- imagine an escort able to line up one hundred 50$ handjobs for the same Wednesday afternoon and she's done working for the month.

Now you can have sex without even touching another human being!

Yeah, this is one activity I think I've going to stick to the old meatspace/wetware paradigm for, sorry guys.

OTOH I'm sure it's a fun device to work on :)

I'm not sure how dismissing your post is meant to be- but many people in long distance relationships would love having such a product.

* raises hand* I'm in an LDR and may only see her twice a year (each time for a month or two) but this doesn't excite me at all. Perhaps it's just the fact that I keep seeing people shout look someone solved the problem of LDRs which just makes me roll my eyes - the inability to have sex in certain times of the year is the least of our worries.

If anyone wants to "solve the problem of LDRs", I'd much prefer them to as a look at things like immigration laws, international transport, cultural barriers.

Yes I did think that might be one application, though I'm not sure how sold I would be even then. To each their own, and perhaps it would be better than nothing, but it would kill the intimacy aspect for me.

Intimacy is the name of the game, forget the dildos and fleshlights -- these robots "mirror" each other one to one in both motion and resistance. just using your hands you can push back and forth on each other and it's a very intimate feeling of being connected physically.

I appreciate this may work for some folks, but it's never going to replace having limbs wrapped around each other and collapsing in a sweaty heap afterwards.

And sure, this is opening up a entirely new avenue on top of phone/cyber/webcam sex that wasn't available before, and marks a massive step forward in what's available when people are geographically separate.

At some point the robots will have limbs and sweat.

It would obviously be far from perfect, but for a LDR, the basic question would be whether it was better than phone sex, right?

Well yes, absolutely.

I tend not to bother with LDRs either, I must admit, I think they're mostly a bad thing.

I agree about LDRs in the long term, but if you're apart for a period due to career or life circumstances it's different, and some working relationships can start long distance and work out if someone moves.

Lots of people who have sexual partners in meatspace still use toys, quite a lot actually. There's no comparing a regular human phallus to a fucksaw, or a hitachi, or a sybian.

Sure they do. Sometimes alone, sometimes together. As a male I find them less interesting and I find the idea of remote fucking pale in comparison to the real.

What we've invented here is a new channel for intimacy that falls somewhere between a webcam chat and being in the same room -- it's a big deal!

The idea's been around for decades. I am impressed if you're actually going to bring it to market though, that will be novel. I think most exploration of this space has either been entirely hypothetical or just prototyped and then abandoned.

--edit-- wondering why the downvote? This is factual. If you want to downvote my negative opinions then go ahead, but this stuff has been showcased multiple times over the last 20/30 years and never delivered.

I'd say where everyone else failed was a concentration on porn, toys, and gimmicks. The leap here is the application of robotics, which really solved all of the problems that held the technology side of this back.

Now we're just up against society and challenging a traditionally "organic" space of someones life with artificial augmentations -- which some are excited for, but others are very defensive and scared, or just satisfied with their live-in partner that never spends the night away.

This is a transition period, and our approach is meant to provide the killer app for these devices as well as aggregate the demand for user to user haptic experiences. With this approach we are attempting to incentivise third parties to further innovate and provide new more exciting opportunities to connect over distance in the future knowing that they would immediately have an eager engaged community to appreciate their contributions.

Reminds of the sex scene from the movie Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock. Here's the link to the particular scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k80UQWWUIYs [May be nsfw]

This is actually just one of the reasons why I'm not that worried about overpopulation on Earth.

Sex by touching other human beings is a pretty risky enterprise when you get right down to it.

It's true, but you only live once and what's life without risk?

With all of the other risks we take on a daily basis, I'm more than willing to take a few risks to have sex with a human partner.

Look at me, I have a girlfriend.

LOL. Not right now, unfortunately, no.

We are looking for partners and new connections on AngelList: http://www.angel.co/frixion , we are happy to answer any questions

Too bad the NSA will be collecting all the metadata.

People already volunteer who they're having sex with on Facebook

Telemetry translation API? Seriously? You're recording 3D motion inputs, transmitting over UDP and playing back on a Novint Falcon. State of the art is much more advanced than that.

Our work with the Falcon is just one device (and we're very proud of that, it's a big deal!) The ttapi is a universal language for haptics to connect any device to any other where functionality overlaps. This way new devices can be developed by third parties that can innovate independently and still see an immediate market and userbase. The ttapi is used for games, video, and other software to interact with the user through these devices as well. It's a critical aspect of the potential of the frixion platform.

Are you doing force reflection with the Falcon? Doesn't seem like it from your videos. It sounds like I'm being dismissive but I think you're overhyping your tech, just a bit. What I see in your video is not cutting edge (yet), this is from my experience of reading papers and attending conferences on telemanipulation and haptics, and doing research in this area.

The referring URL should NOT use 'kid' for the id.


THX1138, from 1971, depicting a dystopian future:


Note the machine! You can't see exactly what it's doing, but you can see the way it's moving :)

It's been so confusing that nobody has stepped up to make it happen. In reality, this area of haptics is a patent and licensing mine field and these tightly controlled properties have stifled innovation until now.

In choosing this problem to "solve" much of the effort has been put into overcoming these bureaucratic obstacles to be able to bring a useful platform to market that isn't just gimmicky vibrators. We're super proud of our accomplishments not just with the robots, but to be able to make this a marketable and useful platform that can democratize remote intimacy to the advantage of everyone.

The distopian conversation is an interesting one, and it's been a constant banter here -- but for now what we're doing is trying to bring people closer, not isolate them. This is a tool, a supplement -- not a replacement for real sex. Also, I love that we have to say REAL SEX now to differentiate.


^^This is a Word?

Yes, and probably older than a lot of people reading this comment.

Howard Rheingold column using the term in a 1990 issue of Mondo 2000. http://janefader.com/teledildonics-by-howard-rheingold-mondo...

It even has a Wikipedia page.


Yes, and coined by none other than Ted Nelson.

Hey, Oxford Dictionary here is your word for 2014.

I feel sad for people who think mechanized dildos bots are a good enough substitute for sex.

I hope I never get that jaded - or desperate :)

If we keep saying teledildonic is will be!

I hope this doesn't gum up the inter-tubes.

Where's the API for this? I want to build the first VSAAS (Virtual Sex As A Service).

Unfortunately the API wont be released for third party development until next year, likely well into the beta period. But stay tuned! Right now we're working with various vendors that are trying to get their devices supported ahead of time.

This reminds me too much of one: http://archer.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Krieger

John Carmack will really need to outdo himself to make the technology for this sort of thing actually viable and not just easy "what will those pervy nerds think of next" news fodder. We are many multiple decades out. I'm speaking strictly as a person who actually had sex mind you.

Nothing but respect for fellow robot sex pioneers ;)

Are you saying, "I, for one, welcome our new sexual robotic overlords"?

Yet another pop culture reference — French-Belgian movie "Thomas est amoureux":


http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_est_amoureux (no English version of this article exist, only French, Russian and very short Italian)

What's up with the cartoon horse in the video?

They are RIDING the horse! http://i.imgur.com/dsDg8.gif (i suppose it's easier to see in the video if you go full screen)

Sex over wire. this is brilliant. There are gonna be a lot of no-nodders, but trust me, this is going to be a thing in the future.

There was april fool's joke 12 years ago about a device called FuFme that did exactly that. The world changes.

Still around... haha


How safe is this? It seems difficult to deliver enough force to be realistic without the potential to damage sensitive organs.

It's quite safe, the robots you see in the video have a maximum output that is quite gentle, enough to push small and medium sized toys through a well lubricated passage-way but otherwise harmless.

We have stronger devices that will also be supported day 1 on the beta, and these devices have their power and stroke length defined in the driver software. These more powerful devices aren't so much robots though, just single axis articulation and no bidirectional feedback -- good enough for accelerometer control though where there's no channel for feedback anyway.

ALSO, remember in encounters with humans communication is key! make sure they know what you want and how, just as if they were really there.

I just hope the product is better than the video and the music.

it looks like my investment in sex slash Oculus related porn domains is well on it's way.

I'm sure that the technology behind this can be used for something more useful.

The technology we're using is taken from remote presence machines used for things like remote surgeries. The machines are really just tracking a point in 3d space on both sides and matching it. For medical use, you can imagine the robot arm tracking the edge of a doctors scapel to the micron accuracy -- what we have here is a consumer grade robot for <200$ that tracks to milimeters.

It's a 3D force feedback mouse essentially, you can use it for manipulating and creating 3D models and feel their texture, edges, material, weight, etc.

I am sure we will be doing that too.

We like the realtouch and intend to support it on the frixion platform eventually -- it has an open source sdk available and having broad support for diverse haptic experiences is the point of the plugin system -- however the realtouch is different in some important ways compared to what we've accomplished here using robotics.

The realtouch is an "input only" device that sits motionless on a mans lap while the conveyor belts do their job either from an encoded video, or from a live model using a touch sensitive dildo called a joystick. This is flow of telemetry in a single direction -- to the realtouch. Our devices create a tethered sense of physical intimacy and connection. One partner feels whats happening with the other side, and vice versa, simultaneously. Also, our design has all the moving parts on the outside, which we feel is more appealing than sticking your penis into an opaque grinding box. (Our devices are very quiet btw, will be adding new videos next week to demonstrate)

You can imagine when we add support for the realtouch that other devices on the platfrom such as the robot itself and accelerometer products will be able to send telemetry to the device to control its functions, and vice versa, the joystick would be able to send telemetry to the robots to manipulate a fleshlight/tenga/sleeve. It's really a robust api that enables all devices to interact where their functionalities overlap.

However, we should all be supportive of realtouch right now -- it appears they're having licensing issues with a certain patent holder that is turning the screws on them and without intervention they wont be able to continue selling devices next year. Dealing with this minefield of patents and licensing has been an important predicate for our development at frixion, and we are eager to create a "safe haven" for other developers to deploy their devices under the agreements we hold in the future.


Obviously not your bag, and not really mine either, but why call it sick?

This device plus an Oculus Rift could be a winner.

Oh please.

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