Is intimacy the true challenge of sexual robotics?
As a culture, we have been obsessed with artificially intelligent non-humans for a long time. Cyborgs, androids, and robots have been a dream of humans for centuries, with many different uses for such creations running through our heads. Some want a robot to clean and cook; others want an android to go to war. Perhaps it is out of laziness or a vision of increased efficiency, the idea of having an ultimate submissive being appeals for countless reasons.
There is a proliferation of companies and groups working diligently to bring realistic, interactive sex robots and androids to market. There are also folks experimenting with cybernetics to artificially enhance their sexual prowess.
There is definitely an appetite for such products. We’ve seen increased interest in run-of-the-mill sex toys, such as vibrators and dildos, demonstrated through a boost in their sale and acceptance. People are also seeking out more involved ways to seek sexual pleasure, with the rise of teledildonics and synthetic lovers.
This is fantastic. People are understanding and recognizing their needs for sexual satisfaction and the products to achieve that pleasure are becoming more and more available. For the first time in centuries, more folks are feeling sexually gratified, and pure pleasure is on the rise.
Isn’t it interesting then that some people are looking to bring another element back to our sexual interactions? Most of our erogenous zones are getting wonderfully stimulated… but what about our lips?
Think back to your first memories of intimacy and sexual desire. Think back to the first touches you’ve had with your partners. Those nervous and delicious moments in time frequently coincide with one, specific action. A near universal act of both desire and affection. The thing that has been lauded by poets and captured in song. It could also be the form of telesexuality that we didn’t know we were missing.
In many cultures, a kiss signifies a bond between people. Some would say, even more so than sex, that a kiss is the most intimate of experiences two people can share. Our lips and mouths are extremely erogenous and erotic. Increasing kiss frequency is one of the most frequent tips pieces of advice given to couples who are in a long-term or relationship, sexually waning relationships.
The intimacy of a kiss is also imbued in us from an early age through familial love and remains with us throughout our lives.
The technology of kissing
In fact, the power of the kiss is so strong that technology has emerged that could greatly benefit couples in long-distance relationships.
For example, a prototype called Kissenger could expand our intimate relationships and allow folks to remain deeply connected, even when physically separated. By embracing haptic and telecommunication advances, the kiss messenger device can sense the pressure and movement of one partner’s lips and then transmit those sensations to a paired device miles away.
The most recent iteration of Kissenger is specifically meant for mobile devices and comes from the Imagineering Institute. This version is spearheaded Adrian Cheok, and it has evolved from previous versions. It comes with a smartphone attachment and works with an app. Is there any irony that this type of intimate product is now connected to one of the devices that has been blamed for diminishing intimacy?
This device is built off of the work Cheok and Hooman Samani, Director of the AIART Lab (Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Technology Laboratory) worked on together. While a smartphone is the current delivery model, an earlier version kisses via a device akin to a microphone.
The question remains: will people embrace physical intimacy via technology the same way we have embraced sexual fulfillment from toys?
Accepting distance intimacy
This is hard to say. There is some social precedent that points to Kissenger becoming widely embraced: the overwhelming force of social media. It has been argued that people are forming stronger bonds through social networks than they are through interpersonal interaction. We are exploring attraction and feelings, happiness and challenges, and dealing with them all through touchscreens and keyboards. We’re enjoying each other’s company from afar, so why not our touches from the same distance?
Another positive indicator for the Kissenger moves us back to sex toys. People are becoming quite fond of their sex products. Some folks form bonds with their favorite toys and consider them to be integral parts of their most intimate moments. The worry about “having sex with a piece of plastic” is on the downslope. So while the Kissenger might look like an r odd addition to your relationship toolkit, if we are motivated enough to ensure our interpersonal intimacy, we’ll pucker up and make out with anything.
Image sources: Imagineering Institute, Kissenger, khfalk