LoveSync was created to potentially help couples with problems in the bedroom by enabling them to wordlessly express their desire for sex. How? LoveSync consists of two buttons, which are usually placed on each partner’s bedside tables. Whoever feels like initiating it taps their button, a pair of palm-sized, black and silver buttons, and if both hit their buttons within the specific window of time programmed, the LoveSync lights up in “a swirling glow” as the product’s somewhat cringey video tells us. It aims to inform the other partner that they’re looking for a ‘freak in the sheets’ tonight, and instigates sex.
When it comes to sex, could this be the end of communication as we know it? Or just another viral joke on the internet?
While the sex tech’s Kickstarter video is quite amusing, and the idea of pressing a button to declare you are horny is slightly strange, as many people picked up on Twitter—transforming LoveSync into a viral joke. The founders of LoveSync, a couple from Cleveland, Ohio, named Ryan and Jenn Cmich, said in a promo video that they lost the “joys of romance” after being married for 15 years. According to them, the buttons are a solution to an “age-old problem,” also known as what many married couples describe as ‘monotony’.
The project’s Kickstarter page had a goal of $7,500 for it to come to life, and it did. LoveSync received $21,600 from 442 backers by March 2019. This means that around 221 couples thought that spending $57 on these buttons could help improve their ‘romantic communication’. Because the project crowdfund finished in March, and the LoveSync buttons were only sent to buyers in August, it is still unsure whether it actually helped some couples or not.
Despite the viral tweets and some mean comments, LoveSync buttons might be able to make a difference. But here is the thing—should we not be worried that it could do so by eliminating real communication between two people who are supposed to trust one another? Screen Shot spoke to LoveSync’s co-founder, Jenn Cmich, about where the idea for the sex tech came from. Cmich explained that if you feel like you can just ask your partner if they’re in the mood for sex, then you should.
“LoveSync is not meant to replace conversation,” she says, “talking with your partner is an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship. LoveSync is simply a new, nonverbal way to communicate romantically with your partner. It makes connecting easier and more efficient, resulting in more frequent intimate encounters.”
But imagine being married, coming home from a long day at work, and not being able to communicate to your partner that you are, in simpler words, horny; to me, this sounds like you’d need couples counselling, not a ‘fuck’ button. LoveSync aims to encourage potential users to “make their move with confidence,” but by using the device, people are actually throwing any kind of confidence out the window, and instead choosing to ignore the problem in the first place. And what happens if only one half of the couple taps the button? “No risk of rejection, and no pressure on your partner,” says LoveSync’s website. Cmich presses that LoveSync shouldn’t be used as the only way to express your ‘needs’, “Cell phones, texting, and social media have all made connecting to your existing social network easier, and more efficient. LoveSync does the same for couple’s sex lives.” Or at least, it tries to.
Talking about the many jokes around LoveSync, Cmich admits that she saw them but for her, they just highlight the need for this new technology. “Sex is still a topic that people are most comfortable discussing in a joking manner. It’s easier to make fun of than to have a real conversation around the challenges of keeping sex alive in long term relationships. For those that are more uncomfortable talking about sex, or putting themselves out there to initiate, LoveSync is a great alternative way to make your desires known,” she explains. And while there still seems to be some problems linked with such a device, Cmich does have a point.
Are we too afraid of the role technology plays in our lives, especially in our dating lives? Or is LoveSync just too ahead of its time? The answer is still unclear, but, after all, LoveSync is a brand new idea, and as Cmich pointed out, “When online dating was first introduced, there was a stigma to it, only weirdos living in their parent’s basement would need it.” In the meantime, it is obvious that most people are still willing to risk facing rejection when trying to ‘get it on’.
And for the ones who actually see the potential of that innovation, know that LoveSync buttons are out there, waiting to be tapped. LoveSync is also developing an app that will have all of the same functionality as the button. Either way, no judgement should be made, tap away or don’t, love it or hate it—you call the shots.
The sex tech industry is booming, and with it come many positive as well as negative aspects. While some people are receiving these new changes with open arms, others keep a guarded approach to them. Why? Well, because some of these technologies might alter the way we have real relationships, and how we interact with potential partners. This is the case of Virtual Mate, a virtual partner aimed at heterosexual male users (for now at least) that comes with a high tech fleshlight. Could this be the future of intimacy or has sex tech gone too far?
Described by some as “the sex tech industry’s most ambitious project,” Virtual Mate is the first virtual intimacy system that combines realistic adult gameplay with an advanced, sensor-based masturbation sleeve—also known as a fleshlight. The virtual girlfriend comes with an adult game, where users can put themselves in any kind of situation they want. Pick the story mode if you want a drawn-out love affair in a picturesque hotel in Paris. If you’re in a hurry, just select the mode for a quickie.
The Core is the main element of Virtual Mate. It is a wireless, Bluetooth-enabled masturbator that includes real-time motion tracking, and a sensitive internal sensor to give ‘feedback’ to the Virtual Mate video game. The game comes with a main model called Shelia, a white, busty woman, ready for any kind of sex. She comes with a database of animations, facial expressions, and responses to every type of thrust.
The Virtual Mate can be used on a smartphone, a tablet, a computer and with a VR headset. Once the player turns on the Core, slides it over his erection, the realistic 3D model responds. Because the animations are based on the player’s movement and ways of having sexual relationships, each experience is supposed to be different for everyone.
Screen Shot spoke to Jeff Dillon, the CEO of Virtual Mate, about what this sex tech innovation means for the future of relationships, and what’s next on the company’s agenda. “Our goal is to create an experience so real it will be hard to tell what is real and what isn’t. This starts with a mental connection to the Virtual Mate character and the more personal we can make it, the better the mental connection,” Dillon shared. In his mind, anyone owning a Virtual Mate will soon be able to create their own perfect sexual fantasy—something that sounds both exciting and somehow worrying.
On its Twitter account, the company is currently running a contest where users can vote for who they’d like to see Virtual Mate create as its new avatars—from Kim Kardashian to pornstars. When asked about whether he ever worries about how Virtual Mate could influence the way we behave in real life relationships, Dillon admits that he simply doesn’t. Sharing where the idea came from in the first place, he says that “One of the reasons we came up with this concept was because my wife had a difficult pregnancy and post-birth, so it impacted our sex life. Because the Virtual Mate character is not a real person, my wife doesn’t feel like it is cheating, and she isn’t threatened by a digital character.”
Although Dillon makes a fair point—after all a virtual ‘girlfriend’ is not real—the sense of attachment that could develop over time between a user and the virtual partner could still cause some to become jealous. It could even affect a user’s ability to connect with real potential partners. Dillon explains that he wants to “fill a void where traditional relationships break down,” because “traditional relationships are not for everyone.” In other words, Virtual Mate would be there for users as an alternative relationship and sexual release. And isn’t that what makes this technology so strange, the idea that your partner might not need you that much for the intimate aspects of your relationship?
No one has the answer to that question just yet, as only time will tell. In the meantime, Virtual Mate is already working on expanding its reach to more users. “We are already in research and development for a product for women, which will be a haptic silicone dildo that will simulate the male erection and get harder the more aroused the Virtual Mate character gets. The silicone dildo will also be able to thrust in and out while changing speeds and motion,” Dillon explained. The company is also exploring lesbian and gay options, for the Core as well as the available virtual partners.
The possibilities for this new technology and the many concepts that could derive from it are endless. Dillon said that he and his company “are getting in front of this market, and intend to lead the way in virtual product capabilities.” The future of intimacy is here, and it’s as mind-blowing and scary as it sounds.