Friday, 31 October 2014
SAY HELLO TO THE WORLD'S FIRST BIONIC STRAP ON!
As a culture, we’ve come up with a million ways to augment our bodies: tattoos, fake breasts, prosthetic limbs. Part of this trend of body modification is our fascination with embodying other people’s experiences. Another component is an endless search for new ways to feel.
Which lead me to the question: can we hack our sex lives? For many women, including myself, wondering what it would be like to own a penis has been a source of endless fascination and late-night conversation. A small group of Denver-based sex toy innovators called Orgasmatronics have (if you will) risen to the challenge of creating an experience for individuals born without a biological penis that’s very much like having a real penis — they’ve invented the world’s first bionic strap-on.
The Ambrosia Vibe, the incredibly sophisticated dildo, was first conceived by Orgasmatronic’s resident inventor, Dr. Xtreme. Up until this point, the benefits of wearing a strap-on have been largely psychological rather than physical, but the Ambrosia Vibe brings an entirely new element to dildos: vibrational feedback. With this toy, not only the pleasure of the receiver, but the pleasure of the wearer becomes a major part of the sexual experience. It’s a toy that Dr. Xtreme has been tinkering with for years and was encouraged by his friends, particularly in the queer, kink, and trans communities, to pursue. “The response was, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, you have to build this,’” Dr. Xtreme explains to Nerve.
The bionic dildo is sort of like a silicone super penis. It can respond to the wide range of human touch, including stroking, rubbing, poking, and sucking. How? There’s no sensors in it, but the silicone dildo acts as a pressure cavity that connects to a tiny hose that’s attached to a remote pressure sensor (which is about the size of a deck of cards and can be attached to the belt of a strap-on). When the pressure on the dildo changes with rhythmic movements (you know, someone is sucking it or being penetrated), the bionic dildo translates that pressure to vibrations at the base of the strap-on. So, whatever happens to the dildo during sex, the wearer of the dildo feels through specialized vibrations on their clitoris or body part of choice. The classic bullet vibrator contained within the dildo doesn’t have three generic pulse settings like other vibrators on the market, instead, the dildo mimics a real body part in that each sexual experience is completely its own. Alexandra Ars, who manages the brand, explains to Nerve that, “it basically allows you to make up your own vibration patterns. The vibrator ramps up slowly to its highest speed and then ramps back down slowly to its slowest speed when you start and stop.”
Whatever happens to the strap-on happens to the user. It’s an innovative idea that has a lot of potential for adventurers in the bedroom, whether they’re queer, straight, trans, or solo. Because the Ambrosia’s design is modular, it can easily be disassembled for cleaning, maintenance, and in the future, more sophisticated parts. Dr. Xtreme explained to me a scenario in which users wearing two Ambrosia Vibes could potentially switch hoses, so that everything that happened to one partner’s dildo is felt on your own body. “There’s no extra software for that. You can just swap hoses. We call that the 96, instead of the 69. Where you can stimulate yourself by doing something to your partner’s strap-on.” “So it’s sort of like body swapping?” I said in awe. “We like to call it body hacking,” he explains.
Body hacking seems to be the buzzword within the sex tech community, already a group of software-savvy, body-curious folks who are often early adopters of the this type of cutting edge tech. Sure, other strap-on vibrators exist, but this is the first one to respond to a partner’s actual, realtime touch. The teledildonics industry, a market that specializes in remote sex tech, has seen the rise of many unique inventions like LovePalz, OhMiBod, and Fundawear since the 1990s, but all to limited success. Though Dr. Xtreme is very interested in bringing the Ambrosia into the remote sex tech space, he says it would require the right partnership with a company that has already built the software.
He explains the boom-and-bust of the teledildonics industry: “The reason I think is that nobody wants to do anything over the internet that they wouldn’t do in the same room. So if you find you and your partner want to do this thing and you’re face to face and it’s just a few inches distance and you got 15 inches of cord connecting you, and that’s fun and cool, then you might want to do that over the network.” With the Ambrosia ready to integrate with all kinds of vibrators and sex machines, the possibilities for future relationships and a variety of sexual encounters are endless. Dr. Xtreme mentioned to me a scenario called the “Two Guys Threesome” that he could envision tamer couples trying out with the help of the Ambrosia. “It’s conceptually a comment my wife made up about [the Ambrosia]…it’s the hetero couple having pretty vanilla sex except there’s a penis in their mouth and a penis in their vagina and also a bullet vibe on the clit that’s being operated by the feedback of whatever is happening to the bionic dildo.” If your head is spinning, you aren’t alone. The design of the bionic dildo might be simplistic and “trivial,” as Dr. Xtreme calls it, but the options are complicated, as nuanced as sex itself.
The Ambrosia Vibe, which just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, has nearly met half of its funding goal at the time of writing. Part of that powerful demand might be because the Ambrosia Vibe seeks to bring back the human touch to where it’s direly needed — the wearable tech industry. “I’d like to think it has the power to let people play with their own bodies and let people kind of figure out their sexual identity…they can kind of do a lot more stuff that they wouldn’t normally be able to do otherwise,” Dr. Xtreme explains. “When people are more comfortable with themselves, they’re going to be more comfortable with other people. So maybe someone really wants to try just having a penis, and that’s something that’s going to make them more comfortable in whatever sexual space they want to be in.”
Ars explains that the Ambrosia has also sparked a lot of transformative conversations between her and other women. “I really like being able to push the conversation about sex toys into a little bit of an unexplored space and I think just being able to have a conversation about the Ambrosia with people — what is it and what does it do and what’s a strap on? — that’s already opened up a lot of doors in talking about sexuality. I think that conversation will bring people closer together.”
Available at: $199 offer price $149