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Rachel Maines is a visiting scientist in the Cornell University School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her principal research interests lie in the history of technology, especially issues relating to[…]

How will sex evolve in the age of robotics?

Question: What new sex toy technologies are currently emerging?

Rachel Maines: Well, I'm told, I learned this just the day before yesterday at the Philoctetes Institute. Doesn't that sound educational? And it is, too, I was asked to be a part of a roundtable there, and a young woman got up and talked about something called the Real Doll, which is a programmable female type of person, well basically it's a female robot, or sex bot, as I'm told you should call them, that has, you know, that has programmable, the oral cavity is programmable. She didn't mention any of the other body parts, but I gather they all are. And now it's, of course it's hideously expensive, any kind of robot is very expensive, even the ones that just vacuum carpet are not cheap. But yeah, that's one of the directions it's going. There are now things you can buy and install in your bathtub that are kind of, to me of course they are electronic and they have, and in fact, one of the technical challenges is that water and electronics don't mix, and the inventors, the engineers who build these things, are really having trouble with that, keeping the electronics, that's why it's so hard to get a reliable dishwasher that has electronic controls, because you have hot, something hot and you've got something wet, and you've got electronics, which are not a good combination.

They go in your bathtub and they're programmable, and they're for women. You sort of ride them like a, I don't really have a clear picture in my mind of what they're like, but I've had them described to me. Oh, and I think there's one called Amazing Saddles, that's it, this one called Amazing Saddles. So probably if you Googled on Amazing Saddles, you'd find it. And then there's a lot of dual action stuff now, that, you know, that penetration is not, most women don't have orgasm just with penetration alone. And you know, if you've got both, well, you know, and some of these penetrative dildo-type vibrators that also have a dual action, you've seen the ones with the little rabbit, you know, with the ears that go like this, and some of them are really very cute. So they've gotten more playful and I'm sure they're going to get more technological and there's all these things now where people do elaborate hookups with the internet and I'm so, it's funny, I'm so old-fashioned, you know, I wrote this book and everybody thinks, "Oh, she must know all about this stuff," and I'm like, I've been married for 30 years, you know?

Recorded on December 14, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen