Co-written and -researched with our go-to psychologist, Dr. AlanK:
You are here and your sweetheart is there...either across a crowded room or across a continent. What to do? When your partner was close, you'd have to get up, go over, reach out and touch them; when they were far away, you'd have to email, sext or Skype. But that was before technology made distance (somewhat) obsolete. With teledildonics, the science of remotely controlled sex, you can now get up close and personal no matter how near or far away you are. The question is: how good can you get it?
Within a Room
Your options across a crowded room are almost too numerous and too enjoyable to count. Since this is mature technology, you can find vibrating dildos, bullets, and eggs with remote controls for same-room use from a range of vendors. But be aware that quality really varies, so if you don't recognize or trust the brand name, find out what the product is made of, who you're buying it from and what kind of reviews it gets. Here are some good bets:
Lelo This Swedish manufacturer (EMandLO.com's BFF's -- see sidebar) offers an entire line of remote-controlled pleasure objects, including an internal vibrator (Tiana), beads (Hula), a bullet vibe (Lyla), a couples ring (Oden), and even something exclusively for the boys (Hugo for prostate stimulation). All are radio controlled with enough strength to work across a room. Their rechargeable (and damn-fun-to-play-with) remote controls using their trademarked SenseMotion technology reacts to hand movements and, to some extent, lets you feel what your partner feels. They're gorgeous and made of great body-safe stuff. Just thinking of what you could do at your next party or on your next dinner date is worth what they cost: one of you waves your hand and the other squirms with delight.
OhMiBod This reliable company has well-made, nice-looking vibrators with different levels of remote control. What made them famous was their original music-driven vibrators (they vibrate to the beat of your chosen music for a "dual sensory experience"). They're available wired (an included splitter allows both the vibrator and your headphones to be plugged into your MP3 player) OR wireless (you plug your MP3 player into the included receiver), and come in various shapes (wands, rabbits, or g-spotters). The most control your partner has is really just choosing the playlist.
Next is their ClubVibe, a wearable device that slips into its own one-size-fits-most black lace thong (your own panties will do) -- the remote can be controlled manually by you or your luvva (nearby or across the room) OR it can be set to respond to ambient noise, such as music at a club (i.e. get your freak on in more ways than one), your partner's voice, or even a lecture by the professor you have a crush on.
Hot Octopuss Their Pulse II Duo, awesomely nicknamed "The Guybrator," is a male penile stimulator with external vibrations -- and a remote control -- for her. Imagine something that looks like a macho seashell, or even an elegant taco shell, into which a penis is inserted. Its interior utilizes actual oscillation (not just vibration) for his pleasure which is controlled via buttons on the device itself. The soft underside, designed for her pleasure while he wears it (and she presses up/down against it), vibrates via a remote control. It can be used with lube in a sliding motion, or without in a static position. It's a close-range-only gadget but unique in what it does (though reviews are mixed on Amazon).
PicoBong On the horizon is the new app-controlled series from happy, shiny fun-makers PicoBong called Remoji. Four new sex toys designed for both women AND men -- a G-spotter, a male masturbation sleeve, a penis ring and a butt plug, all vibrating -- will be controlled via the Bluetooth-enabled app. These waterproof vibes will have 6 different vibration patterns based on different musical genres (jazz, punk, dubstep, indie, techno and hiphop) and will be able to sync to ambient rhythms. It's in Indiegogo development right now -- supporters get 40% off the toys once they hit the market. PicoBong's raised four times their fundraising target so far, so it's looking good they'll be a reality soon.
Across the Miles
Unfortunately, the further away you go the harder it is to find satisfaction. For example, Highjoy, which made a remotely controlled Rabbit in 2007 that uses a VGA(!) connector, has an updated version which requires a monthly subscription, but the reviews are terrible (apparently it's quite buggy) and its manufacturer Doc Johnson is not known for high quality products. Fortunately, OhMiBod has come to the rescue!
OhMiBod Their BlueMotion vibes, either wearable or wand-shaped, are Bluetooth enabled so they can be controlled via an iPhone or Android from across the room OR -- get this -- from across an ocean! You just download the free app and start tapping and turning the virtual dials in ways you think your partner will love! Reviews are mixed, but right now it's the best long distance option.
The Platonic Ideal
Of course, the ultimate goal of teledildonics is a two-way device. For example, a straight man might have a Fleshlight-type sleeve at his computer and his movements in it would be sent to his computer (via wifi or Bluetooth or radio signal), through the Internet to his partner's computer, and then to a device attached to her, with his motions echoed by her device -- and vice versa. Connect via Skype, whisper sweet nothings, work your devices, and voila: transcontinental intimacy!
Unfortunately this Holy Grail of techno-sex has been almost here for years: e.g. Sinulator (RIP 2004), Elaico (2013), Lovepalz (2013), and Kiiroo (2014). A net search will reveal article after techie article, all sounding the same but all about different products, and--alas--all have been vaporware, sometimes offered for pre-market release, but never quite hitting the shelves. Given the challenges of producing just a decent one-way gadget, it's not surprising that even an enormous amount of time and money have failed to give us a perfect two-way system yet.
The current attention getter is a linked pair of gadgets called Max and Nora (why not Nick and Nora from The Thin Man, or even the titular characters from 2008's indie rom com?). Offered by the start-up firm Lovense (there's a website but no dealer network), Max and Nora are real--you can buy them--but the integrated software is iffy. Still, Lovense seems to be pairing up with a virtual reality porn studio, and nothing drives technology like porn. Maybe this time, unlike the last half dozen times, it will eventually work. Fingers crossed you see this, or something like it, in your favorite feminist toy store soon -- that's the truest test of a product's legitimacy.
And if you're holding out for that three-dimensional virtual reality you've been reading about, a la Oculus Rift? Sorry: not until the day after the day after tomorrow. The bandwidth is just too great for the current Internet. Until we get gigabit access, I'd put my money toward a plane ticket.