Today, futuristic sex is barreling toward us faster than ever before, and it seems every week, we see another news report on its technological advances, including new research seeking to understand where we are headed. As I mentioned in my previous column on male sex toys, I’ve been wanting to test out teledildonics, or sex toys that can communicate remotely with one another, for some time.
Kiiroo is a Dutch company at the forefront of sex tech. This week, the stars aligned and I had the opportunity to review their newest male masturbator, the Fleshlight Launch, which just debuted at SXSW, in conjunction with their female vibrator, the Pearl.
The day the toys arrived in the mail felt like Christmas 2017 had come several months early. I tore the box open with a nail file and called my friend, Max, to see if he wanted to be my human guinea pig that weekend.
The Launch is a stylish and sleek device. Finished in matte black and faux brushed silver, it reminded me a bit of a high-end espresso maker. It is compatible with all existing Fleshlights, so if you currently own one, you’re already halfway there. I opted for one Launch and one Pearl as my couples set, but know that you also have the option of purchasing two male (or two female) toys, if you’d prefer.
In addition to couples who are in a long distance relationship, I’d recommend Kiiroo’s set for couples who aren’t. It can be used in pretty much any situation where two people have to be apart; for example, if you aren’t yet living together or if one of you is traveling for work.
The first step is to sync both devices using Wifi. Then, for guys, once your Fleshlight has been inserted into the Launch, you just need to pop a bit of water-based lubricant over the opening and you’re set. (No silicone-based lubes or hand lotion, please, because this will eat away at your Fleshlight.)
In manual mode, in which the Launch does all of the work for you, it can perform up to 180 automated strokes per minute, which, needless to say, is a lot. You can control the position, length and speed of each stroke using the touch-sensitive sliders on either side of the toy—and yes, they have some serious strength to them. In interactive mode, you have the ability to synchronize the Launch with your partner, or incorporate interactive content like videos, virtual reality (VR) and live webcams.
As for the Pearl, it has nine settings for solo play, and in interactive mode, its vibrations can be controlled remotely using the slider buttons on the left side of the Launch. Your partner can use her hands or mouth on the Pearl, as well as inserting it vaginally to stimulate her G-spot. (You can, of course, operate both toys at the same time.)
According to Max, once you’ve gotten the Launch set up in your lap, it looks like a mini-robot has swallowed your penis. But then it’s business as usual; the Fleshlight feels indistinguishable from a real vagina and being able to control your partner’s toy allows for more intimacy than your usual long-distance Facetime.
As for the Pearl, it was extremely responsive to my touch; when paired with the Launch, it didn’t take much pressure for the male toy to respond. The technology was also very smart—the minute I put my finger on the Pearl’s tip, the Launch would automatically pull the Fleshlight back in anticipation, in order to simulate the start of penetration.
Couples should probably do a practice run before their first time using the set, so that when the time comes, there won’t be any hiccups or delays. It would also help to give you an idea of each other’s preferences when gauging the different speeds and settings. I can’t imagine anything less erotic than partners (or in this case, platonic friends) shouting over webcam, “Is it working? DOES THIS FEEL GOOD?”
Teledildonics offers a whole host of new possibilities when it comes to solo and partnered sex, and I had a fantastic time trying it out. In the weeks leading up to my review, whenever my friends would ask me what I was working on, a number of them would then say, “Tele…what?” But in my sexological opinion, I really do see sex toy technology going mainstream, with everyone in the future owning a set.
Debra W. Soh is a sex writer and sexual neuroscientist at York University in Toronto. She has written for Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail and many others. Follow her on Twitter: @debra_soh.