The link between haptics tech and devices that facilitate remote/computer-mediated sex would seem to be an obvious one. In the same book where he popularized the term ‘teledildonics’, Howard Rheingold devoted extensive attention to the nascent field of haptic interface design, recognizing the centrality of computer-mediated touch to the success of emerging virtual reality systems. But the haptics industry has tended to disavow its connection to cybersex, in spite of their apparent kinship.
Earlier this year, I explored this relationship a bit in an article that I wrote for Logic magazine on the male-oriented RealTouch cybersex device. The RealTouch presents an interesting case study for a variety of reasons, but most pertinent to those interested in Haptic Media Studies is the way that it links the haptics and teledildonics industry. Before designing and patenting the RealTouch, inventor Ramon Alarcon had spent several years working as the director of Immersion Corporation’s Gaming and Entertainment Business Unit, where he helped develop computer peripherals. The RealTouch’s promotional materials explicitly referred to haptics as the ‘science of touch,’ using the incorporation of haptic tech to cement the device’s tacit promise to faithfully reproduce the tactility of real sex.
Read the full text of “RealTouching from a Distance” (or “This Orgasm Machine Almost Revolutionized Sex as We Know It”) over at Logic’s site. There’s some other pertinent articles in the rest of their Sex issue. As this conversation around HMS continues, we hope to see more explicit links between haptics & cybersex articulated and explored.