Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

I used to think "sexual enhancement" just meant "sex toys." That is, until I started exploring the wonderful—and sometimes utterly weird—world of mechanical and electronic sex augmentations. Here's what's happening now and what will happen soon.

As you'll see, existing innovations take our tongues, fingers, vulvas and penises to the next level. But the future of sex augmentations appears to lie in biometrics and in networking. Soon toys will learn from and interact with our bodies' responses, with or without a partner, while teledildonics will help people separated by vast distances get closer (and wetter).

Tongue, Extended

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

Whoever made women's genitals certainly made them tricky to stimulate—especially orally. Enter the Tongue Joy, a vibrating tongue enhancement to help human tongues do what no human can in terms of sensation and endurance. Strap the silicone-banded vibe on your tongue (or, if your tongue is pierced, use the barbell piercing attachment) and proceed with awesome. It's battery operated and comes with multiple band sizes in case you want to strap it around something bigger. Four silicone sleeve attachments enhance the size and texture of the vibrating yummy-ness. Lovely for oral sex on a man, too, particularly those who are into hummers that aren't cars.

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

Bionic Fingers
The vibrating three-finger power pack and glove by Fukuoku enhance the size and function of one's digits, transforming your fingers into vibrators that run at up to 45,000 vpm (that would be vibes per minute). They're more particularly cyborgy than most sex toys, if that's your thing. (Ahem, Malebots subscribers!)

Unnatural Male Enhancement

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

The Ride On (pun intended) blows most penis extenders (pun not intended) out of the water. It's more comfortable, less bulky and stays on in more positions than other models—all while fulfilling its purpose of enhancing the size and function of a man's penis. Function? Yes. Some men use these not for length or girth but to keep having sex during half time. Available from Vixens Creations, the Ride On gets men around that annoying "refractory period" that is the curse of many a man's sexistence. It's also useful for men with severe or chronic erectile dysfunction (ED) who want in.

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

Electronic Condoms?
Given the perception that condoms may reduce sensation, sex-loving scientists have been proposing vibrating condom designs since at least the 1990s. Given the enormous improvements in vibrators since then, it's unclear what a vibrating condom—if ever brought to market—would ultimately look like. Will it have an awkward external wire and power pack like the one in this 1995 patent image? (Here's a PDF of the actual patent.) Or will it be built into the condom itself, as thin as a BandAid, as in my dreams? The design will have to depend on functionality: The vagina is not as sensitive as a woman's vulva (clitoris, labia, etc) so the value of a vibrating shaft may be more for a man than his partner. That is, unless it vibrates at the base by a woman's vaginal opening or clitoris, like the Trojan Vibrating Ring or the Bo—a favorite.

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

The Hydraulic Penis
As potentially borgy as it is, this pre-Viagra augmentation is for now only available for men with ED that is unlikely to respond to medication or sex therapy. This type of penile implant lets men pump themselves into an erect state whenever they want—note that pump in the scrotum—and deflate on command. There's none of those scary erections lasting longer than 4 hours that we hear about in commercials starring Bob Dole. Though many men may dream of having this much control over their erections, the ones who use this do it as a last resort. Once it's been in use for a while, some men lose their natural erectile reflex because their body no longer has to work at it. Moral of the story: Enjoy what you've got.

Hymen Again

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

Fake hymens give the illusion that one is going where no man has gone before. One option is a hymenoplasty—a surgical procedure that "restores" a woman's hymen. This is done only rarely in the US, but is performed increasingly in other countries, often for women who who feel they need to prove their virginity to their fiancé or his family lest they risk shame or, scarily, even violence. Sometimes, the operation is requested by women who want to give their partner the "gift" of taking their virginity, like as an anniversary gift (for serious—and to think I'd go with golf clubs or a Garmin).

There is a mail-order product that a woman places inside her vagina which simulates the loss of virginity, fake blood and all. Gigimo's Artificial Virginity Hymen, has come under fire by some Egyptian politicians, who even called for a ban on it. Meanwhile, women everywhere are still calling for an end to practices that insist they "prove" their virginity to anyone or anything. On a different note, a quick word to Gigimo: When you write that you can "have your first night back anytime," does that include the awkward fumbling, 20-second staying power, and the two weeks of worrying about being pregnant?

Biometrics: Gadgets That Get You
I've seen (dreamed?) the future of sex toys and It. Is. Awesome. Ideas are swirling about how to create sex toys that rely on digital biometrics. No, we're not talking fingerprint-activated toys that prevent women's husbands from getting curious when they're home alone. We're talking about products that respond to vaginal temperature, pelvic contractions leading up to orgasm, heart rate, even pelvic blood flow. Sexual Aids of the Future may be able to learn a person's sexual response and alter stimulation patterns based on the data.

Maybe there will eventually be a gadget that will help men to last longer (so long, baseball!) or women to come more quickly. Maybe it will build sexual tension in such a lovely way that pleasure and orgasm are on the "better than average" side of the mountain more often than not. The technology is there, the ideas are there, all it takes is execution, I'm betting sooner rather than later. When the day of biometrically enhanced stimulation comes, I guarantee we will wake ‘n gadget with more than our iPhones.

Becoming a Sexual Cyborg (NSFW)

Teledildonics: Long-Distance Yearning
Though most sex toys enhance in-person play, some toys facilitate sex between people across the miles. Take the PenisTron, for example, which looks and probably feels (thanks to vacuum effects) like a Fleshlight version of a vagina—and it can be controlled, tightened or slowed to a seductive drag by a man's partner out in the ether to simulate the two of them having sex.

There's also the Communication Hole Rider (which involves vacuum effects) and the Joystick (vacuum effects on the penis and a joystick up the butt)—all which can help to connect two people for interactive sex play.

It's not sex with a toy; it's sex with a person via a toy: Big difference. Sure, you miss out on the kissing. (The mostly male sex toy designers never seem to create toys that make out with you, except for some freaky robot girlfriends.) On the other hand, there's no risk for infection or pregnancy when you're doing it teledildonically.

My dream for teledildonics is that we eventually fine tune toys to produce more variety and transitions. IRL sex tends to move, for example, from sucking (vacuum effects) to licking (hey there, Sqweel) to mouth kissing (freaky robot girlfriend) to intercourse (vacuum again) to hand play (toned down version of the Fukuako glove) or whatever else you're into (furniture play?). And if it were me playing with a partner over the internet I'd want to touch, to kiss, to lick, to play in varied teasing ways—not just yank their junk with the PenisTron (though it's a good start). Who's with me?

Debby Herbenick, PhD is a Research Scientist and Associate Director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. She blogs at MySexProfessor.com.

This week, Gizmodo is exploring the enhanced human future in a segment we call This Cyborg Life. It's about what happens when we treat our body less as a sacred object and more as what it is: Nature's ultimate machine.