haptic vagina

Did you see it? The blog post from an engineer who was frustrated by the shortcomings of her remote control vibrator, so she hacked her vagina – not in the axe-related icky way, but in the geek way.

She built a remote control for her very nice bullet vibe that used not a dial or a lever, but the movement of the operator’s hand over and around the remote control. Watch the video:

I won’t claim I understand any of the engineering involved – I’m a social scientist who never understood calculus, chemistry, or physics, it’s just not how my brain works – but here’s what fascinates me: she writes,

This toy serves as a kind of analog bridge between two remote spaces: the column of ultrasonically-oscillating air in front of the remote, and whatever body part happens to be in contact with the vibrator. Touch that invisible space above the remote, and the vibrator touches you.

In fact, it does start to feel like there’s a palpable object in space above the remote’s sensors. Move your body close to it, and it reacts. Press into it lightly, or tease the edges. Flick your hand through it, or make graceful waves back and forth. You can use your whole body to touch it, almost like a big fuzzy vibrating cone floating in air.

If the sensor can see your body’s rhythms, it responds in kind, effortlessly synchronizing to its frequency. This is exactly the sort of closed-loop control I was after.

Closed loop control indeed. Imagine masturbating with this. The vibrator on your clitoris stimulates you on the basis of where you hand is and how its moving relative to the space around the remote. That hand develops a sense that there is a substantial SOMETHING in the empty space – “body scaffolding,” Andy Clark might call it, an extension of your peripheral nervous system into the technology. You tickle or stroke or press the air, and your clitoris responds. And as your clitoris responds, your physiology changes, and the way your hand moves changes, and the way it manipulates the empty space changes, and the way the vibrator buzzes changes, and your clitoris responds and changes your physiology… and so on.

Amazing. Seriously. This transform masturbation, taking all the beautiful things about it – the pleasure, the control, the closed loop between stimulus and stimulation – and extending it into the space around your body. Beautiful.

(PS – don’t read the comments on her post. ugh.)