Haptic Technology: The Feel of the Future

This article originally ran in the June 2012 issue of AVN magazine. To see the digital edition, click here.

As breakthroughs in technology have led to incredible advancements in medicine, education and more, it’s no surprise sex is the next frontier where technology will have a major impact.

There was a time when phone sex operators were raking in the cash. Those who were separated from their loved ones, or just had problems for whatever reason with the social or physical niceties needed for a live sexual encounter, could just offer up a credit card number and for a few dollars a minute get their jollies. Even couples who were separated by distance could get in on the fun, having a little aural sex to ease the pain of being apart.

When smart phones came along with the ability to take pictures, sexting entered the lexicon, and with it brought new possibilities for phone sex: adding images and even short movies to the act.

But all that still paled in comparison to the real act of getting down and dirty with a loved one. You could describe what certain acts felt like, and maybe even throw in a vibrator or a masturbation sleeve to up the ante a bit, but it still fell flat.

Now, long-distance lovers and the lonely guys of the world can rejoice, because haptic technology and cyberdildonics (also known as teledildonics) have brought electronics and battery-operated devices together with the human desire for motion, vibration and other sensations for even better sexual experiences.

High Joy and the Vstroker were among some of the first.

High Joy is a members-only website that allows couples to use a variety of High Joy Enabled devices (the Doc Johnson iVibe Controller with Egg and Comfort Sleeve among them) by connecting them via a serial port to a computer with a Windows-based operating system. A person on one end of the connection controls the product on the other end. The stimulation can be done one way, or two devices can be controlled simultaneously. The technology is compatible with several online dating and social networking sites including Match.com, eHarmony and Facebook.

The Vstroker connects to a Fleshlight and monitors the speed of the user’s strokes. That data is wirelessly transmitted to the user’s PC and simulated within the Vstroker-enabled content. The harder the user thrusts, the more the girl on the screen reacts.

While these services do take online sexual stimulation to the next level, the introduction of haptic technology really took things up a level. 

Haptic technology, or haptics, is a tactile feedback technology which takes advantage of the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. Such devices have been used in flight training and in NASA’s space program for training purposes, and found their way into video games as early as 1976. The technology is commonplace in smart phones these days, but it wasn’t until recently that it was adapted for use in pleasure products.

“Originally, the idea of using haptic technology was presented to AEBN and pitched as a great product to interact with video content,” explained Scott Rinaldo, sales manager for the RealTouch, which is produced by AEBN. “But we quickly saw the potential to also be able to go live with it, and provide a more organic experience.”

The RealTouch is an award-winning interactive masturbator for men. It creates a web-based virtual sex experience using patented haptic technology that simulates the authentic warmth, moistness and relative motion in thousands of adult videos. RealTouch synchs with programmed adult videos as well as live cam models so the user can experience realistic oral, anal and vaginal sex with the world’s hottest performers. Users are feeling the action, not just watching.

To date, there are more than 1,500 hardcore scenes programmed for use with the RealTouch. The unit, which connects to a PC via USB port, has a top and bottom layer of textured silicone “skin” inside and an adjustable orifice. Once connected and synched to the video content, the inner chamber squeezes, strokes, warms and lubricates in tandem with the action on the screen.

While the RealTouch continues to do well, it still lacked that sense of intimacy and the ability to direct the action. You can tell the girl in the coded content to move to the left all you want, but there is no way for that response to happen. Or is there?

Earlier this year at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, RealTouch demonstrated the RealTouch Joystick, a nonphallic device that houses a flexible circuit board underneath its outer coating, Rinaldo explained.

The RealTouch JoyStick is a remote control for RealTouch that a live webcam model uses to create internet sex. The technology that makes the RealTouch JoyStick work is similar to that used on a touch-screen device. Whatever the model does, the other use sees and feels.

“The JoyStick can sense when it’s being stroked, or squeezed, or whatever action is being performed,” he said. “That then translates to the RealTouch device, and allows for the first-ever live internet sex.”

The RealTouch JoyStick relies on capacitive sensing technology. Capacitive touch sensors are used in many devices such as laptop trackpads, digital audio players, computer displays, mobile phones, mobile devices, tablets and others.

“The units can be used together to create virtual dates with a real model,” Rinaldo said.

Currently, RealTouch is working with live cam models so RealTouch users can have a more intimate and organic experience, he said. “You can make that mental connection with a live model that can’t be done with content on a screen,” Rinaldo noted.

Rinaldo said AEBN has completed the first round of beta testing and is launching RealTouch Interactive on June 1. The company is already looking toward the future for new applications of the technologies for more products, including a site aimed at members of the military.

“This isn’t technology that’s just limited to use with porn stars on a cam site,” he added. “Eventually, it will open up for online swingers clubs, and then move on beyond the adult industry for couples in long-distance relationship situations.”


Mojowijo is another product that has taken the idea of cyberdildonics to a new level with motion-activated body massagers. Mojowijo, a product of SKDu LLC, got its start when Steve DuMosch was involved in a long-distance relationship. While there were products available that he could plug into his computer to satisfy himself, and even other items that he could use remotely on his girlfriend, “they all involved plugging into a computer and using a mouse or keyboard to control the action on the other person,” he said. “I thought it can’t be that hard to come up with something that both partners can use on each other over long distances, but then that relationship ended and the project kind of fell by the wayside.”

When the American left his job with Microsoft to move to Switzerland, partly because of another relationship, the idea of Mojowijo was revived. He soon met a German design student who used the motion sensor technology in the Wii gaming remote to create a vibrating product, and things took off from there.

Mojowijo works via motion2vibration technology, which allows the devices to control each other over Skype, so that when one party connects a Mojowijo to a Wii remote and then to an internet-connected PC, the motions on their end will trigger vibrations on the other party’s Mojowijo. Mojowijo can also be used in the same room, and as a standalone vibrator. Both male and female attachments are available.

“The difference between Mojowijo and other products is that they are interactive both ways,” he said. “They can control each other at the same time. So many other products are one-directional, such as a man controlling a fucking machine for a woman.”

The decision to use the Wii remote controls made sense, since there are at least 70 million devices worldwide.

“They had done the work with developing the motion control technology, and we just capitalized on it,” he said.

But, DuMosch said, it was important for the massagers to be used on their own (they can operate on batteries, as well as when attached to Wii remotes). He admits they might appeal more to the “geek crowd,” but notes they are perfect for people familiar with gaming as well as couples in long-distance relationships.

“More and more people are entering into and staying in long-distance relationships these days, and technology is helping them to overcome the hurdles of being apart and wanting to be intimate,” he said. “For example, in Europe, it’s almost normal for people to be dating someone from another town or even another country when they are in their 20s.”

The Mojowijo is the first of “an explosion of devices that will come out,” DuMosch said.

“Once the technology and the capabilities are out there, people will get used to them and start demanding more,” he said.