As technology progresses, so too is the way in which people have sex. For many, these changes are kind of weird, dystopian even. Are we really going to be having sex with machines in the future? (1) Well, some of us may be. It’s certainly an attractive idea for a lot of people who want sex to be effortless and non-complicated (although there are potential ethical issues with having sex with robots, 2). But in case you thought that integrating sex and technology is a bit creepy, or ‘going too far’, there are some upsides to this development.
Using remotely-controlled sex toys, for example, may be something for astronauts on long-term space missions to consider. This is because going to Mars and back could take three years. Which is a long time to go without sex.
What is remote sex?
Remote sex involves people using remotely controlled sex toys so that they can pleasure each other. One of the companies at the forefront of this technology (known as ‘teledildonics’, 3) is Lovense. Their toys allow couples to have long-distance sex. When one partner moves their sex toy, the other partner’s toy reacts. So for men, the faster the masturbator toy is moved up and down, the faster her vibrator moves. And for women, when the vibrator is moved, the air pump in the man’s sex toy will start pumping air, recreating the feeling of vaginal contractions. The speed of the movements affects the level of contraction and vibration he feels.
The sex toys can be connected to a device using Lovense’s app. Then couples will message or call each other, either using Lovense’s video chat software or something else, such as Skype. You can have remote sex either with one partner controlling the other’s sex toy or with both toys being synced up and interacting with each other (in nearly real time).
Since these sex toys depend on an internet connection, astronauts may not be able to use remote sex toys when venturing to Mars, but those on board (for up to a year) the ISS may be able to when super-quick internet in space becomes a reality (4).
While an astronaut may find the suggestion of using a remote sex toy utterly bizarre and out of the question, they could actually benefit from its use (even if they – understandably – want to keep it completely secret).
Long-distance relationships (LDRs) present all kinds of challenges for couples. One of the most frustrating aspects of LDRs can be the lack of sexual intimacy. For some people, being able to have regular sex with a partner can be a deal-breaker. And if this is what you’re used to, and then your partner has to re-locate for school or work (or space travel), then you’re going to feel pretty down, obviously.
So remote sex could actually keep an astronaut’s romantic relationship alive, intimate, exciting and healthy. People who are normally in LDRs can still visit their partner many times in a year. But if your partner is an astronaut, then you may be apart for a whole year without seeing each other; in which case you could both find yourselves becoming quite sexually frustrated.
This doesn’t mean that ‘spacesturbation’ isn’t a thing, but perhaps the sexual needs of astronauts aren’t getting enough attention (5). Keeping astronauts happy in space makes a smooth and successful mission all the more likely; so since intimacy and sex are both closely linked to well-being, NASA may have to take these matters into account.
About the author: Sam Woolfe @samwoolfe
Sam is a writer who is especially interested in space exploration, sustainability, animal agriculture, nutrition, wellbeing and smart drugs. He is also currently writing a book about the psychedelic drug DMT.