Sex tech: Update on the dildo you can feel

A few months back, I wrote a blog post about a brain hack that might create a dildo the wearer can actually feel. The idea came to me in the shower. I’d been thinking about the brain’s plasticity, and about how it might be possible to trick the brain into internalizing a somatosensory perception that a strap-on dildo is a real part of the body, by using sensors along the dildo connected to tiny electrical stimulation pads worn inside the vagina.

It’s an interesting idea, I think. So I blogged about it. I didn’t expect the response I got.

I’ve received a bunch of emails about it, and had a bunch of people tell me “OMG this is the most amazing thing ever! Make it happen!”

So I have, between work on getting the book More Than Two out the door and preparing for the book tour, been chugging away at this idea. Here’s an update:

1. I’ve filed for a patent on the idea. I’ve received confirmation that the application has been accepted and the process is started.

2. I’ve talked to an electronics prototyping firm about developing a prototype. Based on feedback from the prototyping firm, I’ve modified the initial design extensively. The first version I’d thought about was based on the same principle as the Feeldoe; the redesign uses a separate dildo and harness, with an external computer to receive signals from the sensors in the dildo and transmit them to the vaginal insert. The new design looks, and works, something like this. (Apologies for the horrible animated GIF; art isn’t really my specialty.)

3. The prototyping firm has outlined a multi-step process to develop a workable, manufacturable device. The process would go something like:

Phase 1: Research and proof of concept. This would include researching designs for the sensors on the dildo and the electrodes on the vaginal insert. It would also include a crude proof-of-concept device that would essentially be nothing more than the vaginal insert connected to a computer programmed to simulate the rest of the device.

The intent at this stage is to see if the idea is even workable. What kind of electrodes could be used? Would the produce the right kind of stimulation? How densely arranged could they be? How small could they be? Would the brain actually be able to interpret sensations produced by the electrodes in a way that would trick the wearer into thinking the dildo was a part of the body? If so, how long would that somatosensory rewiring take?

Phase 2: Assuming the initial research showed the idea to be viable, the next step would be to figure out a sensor design, fabricate a microcontroller to connect the sensors to the electrodes, and experiment with sensor design and fabrication. Would a single sensor provide adequate range of tactile feedback, or would it be necessary to multiplex several sensors (some designed to respond to light touch, others to a heavier touch) together in order to provide a good dynamic range? What mechanical properties would the sensors need to have? How would they be built? (We talked about several potential designs, including piezoelectric, resistive polymer, and fluid-filled devices.) How would the sensors be placed along the dildo?

Phase 3: Once a working prototype is developed, the next step is detail design and engineering. This is essentially the process of taking a working prototype and producing a manufacturable product from it. This includes everything from engineering drawings for fabrication to choosing materials to developing the final version of the software.

So. That’s where the project is right now.

The up side? I think this thing could actually work. The down side? It’s going to be expensive.

My partner Eve and I have already started investigating ways to make it happen. If we incorporate in Canada, we may be eligible for Canadian financial incentives designed to spur tech research and development.

The fabricating company seems to think the first phase would most likely cost somewhere around $5,000-10,000. Depending on what’s learned during that phase, the development of a fully functional prototype might run anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, a lot of which hinges on design of the sensors, which will likely be the most challenging bit of engineering. They didn’t even want to speculate about the cost of going from working prototype to manufacturable product; too many unknowns.

We’re discussing the possibility of doing crowdfunding to get from phase 2 to 3, and possibly from phase 1 to 2. It’s not likely that crowdfunding is appropriate for the first phase, because we won’t have anything tangible to offer backers. Indeed, it’s possible that we might spend the initial money and discover the idea isn’t workable.

It might be possible to just put the first phase on a credit card or something, though it’d hurt. Neither of us is really in a position to afford it, especially given the money we’ve spent establishing the publishing house and supporting the book.

Ideally, I’d like to find people who think this idea is worth investigating who can afford to invest in the first phase. If you know anybody who might be interested in this project, let me know!

Also, one of the people at the prototyping company suggested the name “Hapdick.” I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but I do have to admit it’s clever.

Want to keep up with developments? Here’s a handy list of blog posts about it:
First post
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4

Sex Tech: Adopting the Brain’s Plasticity

Some while ago, I read an article about a gizmo made of a black and white video camera attached to a grid of electrodes. The idea is that you wear the electrodes on your tongue. Images from the video camera are converted into patterns of electric signals on the electrode, so you “see”–with your tongue–what the camera sees.

Early users of the prototype gizmo would wear a blindfold and then try to navigate around just by the electrical impulses on their tongues. What’s most interesting is not only were they able to do this, but they reported that, after a while, their memories were not of sensations on their tongues, but of seeing a fuzzy, black and white image.

The brain is wonderfully plastic, able to interpret new kinds of sensory input in amazing ways. It can rewire itself to accommodate the new input; in fact, the tongue-electrode thing is being commercialized as a device for the blind.

As I do, when i first heard about this, I naturally thought “how can this be used for sex?” And I think it has fantastic potential.

Imagine, if you will, a wearable dildo, rather like the Feeldoe, that’s designed to have one end inserted in the vagina. Only imagine that we take the same kind of electrodes used in the tongue-camera device, and send signals to the electrodes not from a video camera, but from small touch sensitive sensors mounted just below the skin of the dildo.

These sensors would be mapped onto the electrodes so that when something touches the sensor, you’d feel a corresponding signal from the corresponding electrode.

I’m not an artist, but I made a couple of crude animations to illustrate the idea:

What would happen?

I believe that after a period of adjustment, this dildo would be incorporated into the brain’s somatosensory perception. The brain would, in essence, modify its model of the body to accommodate the dildo–it would, rather quickly I suspect, cease to be perceived as a thing and become perceived as a part of the body. Stimulation of the dildo would begin to feel like stimulation of yourself.

And isn’t that an interesting idea.

The neural density in the walls of the vagina isn’t as great as the neural density of the tongue. I don’t think that’s a problem, though; the neural density of the shaft of the penis isn’t as great, either.

One potentially interesting twist on this notion is to map the most sensitive part of the penis, the underside just below the glans, onto the most sensitive part of the body–the clitoris. The sensors of the shaft would map onto electrodes in the bulb worn inside the vagina, except this part, which would map onto the clitoris–mapping the sensitivity of a natural penis.

Another potentially interesting thing to do is to make the sensors on the dildo pressure sensitive, with firmer touches creating stronger impulses from the electrodes.

Now, there’s a lot of experimentation between this idea and a real device. I don’t know the neural density in the walls of the vagina, but it would impose a limit on how many electrodes could be placed on the dildo. Would there be sufficient density to be able to create a fine tactile sense? I think the answer is probably “yes,” but I’m not sure.

I’m also not sure how much processing would be required. I’m guessing not much; certainly much less than is required with the vision sense. The tongue-vision thing is trying to do something far more complicated; it’s trying to register sufficient information to allow you to navigate a three-dimensional world. A circle seen by the camera might be a lollipop right in front of your face or a billboard far away; because the tongue has no way to represent stereo imagery, there’s no way to tell. So the processor has to allow the operator to be able to zoom in and out, to give the user a sense of how far away things might be. It has to be able to adjust to different lighting conditions.

The dildo, by way of contrast, merely has to respond to physical touch, which maps much more easily onto the array of electrodes. It’s pretty straightforward; if something’s not touching a particular sensor, its electrode isn’t producing a signal. The amount of processing might be low enough to allow the processor to be housed inside the dildo, making the device compact, and not requiring it to be tethered to any electronics.

I think this thing could be hella fun. It would allow people born with vaginas to have a remarkably good impression of what it’s like to be born with a penis.

In a world where I had infinite free time, I’d put together a crowdfunding campaign to try to build a working prototype. Even without infinite time, I’m considering doing this. Thoughts? Opinions?

Want to keep up with developments? Here’s a handy list of blog posts about it:
First post
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3

Sex for Science! Epilogue

Sex for Science! Chapter 0
Sex for Science! Chapter 1
Sex for Science! Interlude
Sex for Science! Chapter 2
Sex for Science! Chapter 3
Sex for Science! Chapter 4

Last weekend was edwardmartiniii‘s birthday. Entirely on his own, with no input from me, he chose a theme for the party: a Mad Science Fair. Kind of like the science fairs that grade schools and high schools have, you see, only with significantly more insanity.

Regular readers of this blog are no doubt familiar with the ongoing saga of my quest to make a cheap, homebrew, thought-controlled sex toy.

I’m actually working on two projects in tandem: the Tormentor, a sex toy designed not to allow the wearer to reach orgasm, and a sex toy that is controlled by the wearer’s thoughts. I’ve been making significant progress on both fronts in the past few weeks, with prototypes for both a thought-controlled vibrator and the third-generation Tormenter now complete.

And, thought I, what better Mad Science Fair project than the thought-controlled toy?

I put together a display detailing the experiments to date, most of which took place in an especially seedy motel room in Seattle; you are, I’m sure, all no doubt familiar with that tale by now. I also loaded up new beta-test software into the modified EEG, this time intended not just to record a person’s brainwaves, but also to switch a vibrator on and off in response to them. This suitably equipped, we (zaiah and I) set out to the party, with the lovely shadow-5tails in tow.

The party proved fertile ground for test subjects, with a number of party-goers volunteering to have their brainwaves analyzed as they tried to switch a small egg vibrator on and off. (I have, it must be said, totally awesome friends; they give the best data!)

And, interestingly, more than half the people who volunteered to give the gizmo a whirl were able to make the vibrator switch on and off, even in noisy, crowded surroundings that made concentration difficult. Several people were able, with less than ten minutes’ practice, to switch the vibrator on and off at will, simply by thinking about it.

Which is hella cool, if you ask me.

I’ve put up a PDF of the display for the Mad Science Fair, “Analysis of the Practicality of Detecting Physiological Signals of Arousal in Adult Human Brains with Practical Applications of Brainwave-Controlled Stimulation Via Neurofeedback Control and Regulation of Vibratory Devices: A Hands-On Investigatory Approach,” which those of you who might find this particular flavor of mad science interesting can read at your leisure. Eventually, I plan to provide a detailed report of the equipment, software, and test results of the thought-controlled vibrator itself. Stay tuned!

Review: Kinklabs Neon Wand

Back when I was married and living in Tampa, one of my favorite sex toys in the sex toy drawer box closet was a violet wand. It’s a gadget that you plug glass electrodes into and then plug into the wall. When you turn it on, it makes a buzzing noise and the glass electrodes turn purple, and then when you touch someone with the electrodes you get a sensation that’s like…

Well, it’s kinda hard to describe what it’s like. A lot of folks (like me!) who don’t like electrical play still like violet wands, because they don’t really feel like electric shocks. It’s more like little teensy hot needles caressing your skin. There are lots of different shapes of electrodes, that all make different sensations, but that’s the basic theme.

They’re amazing toys. They’re also very spendy. The violet wand I used to have cost me about $700, so when I lost it, I couldn’t afford to replace it, and I’ve been missing it ever since.

Recently, JT’s Stockroom sent me a neon wand as part of a promotion. And, to be honest, I’ve been waiting for someone to realize the market for cheap, reliable violet wands for rather a long time.

This is the Kinklab Neon Wand. If you really want to get technical, it’s not a violet wand, though the reasons that’s true are largely academic.

But, since this journal has never been afraid to venture forth into the academic, I’ll explain why; click here if if you're interested.

More on the Mathematics of Sex Toys

I’ve been posting a bit about the Tormentor, a sex toy I’m designing for the sole and nefarious purpose of not letting the user get off. Quick recap in case you haven’t seen the project so far: it’s a vibrator connected to a programmable microcontroller that’s programmed to run the vibrator in random patterns for random lengths of time with random pauses in between, to keep the wearer sexually aroused but without being q-u-i-t-e enough to allow the wearer to come.

Because, yeah, I’m kind of a bastard.

My sweetie lapis_lazuli beta tested the first standalone prototype, the Tormentor version 0.2, and the biggest problem that arose was that the deice was just too damn bulky.

Part of this was the fault of using a 9V battery to run the microcontroller, but part of t was the fact that the Arduino Uno board I’m using is just plain big.

I mentioned this problem to roadknight last time I was in San Francisco, seeing how he’s also a micorocontroller hacker and general mad scientist. He suggested that I use a Teensy USB board in place of the Arduino, and even gave me a spare that he happened to have handy.

The name doesn’t lie.

Size comparison, top to bottom: 9-week-old Tonkinese kitten, Arduino Uno, Teensy USB

The Teensy is certainly that; it was the second-smallest programmable microcontroller in his collection. (The first was an obscure Chinese something something on a flexible board, about the height of a grain of rice and three times that long.)

I’ve started looking into building the Tormentor version 0.3 around a Teensy. It’ll take a bit of work; the Teensy lacks an on-board voltage regulator, for instance. I’m thinking of using a 6.3v lithium battery to drive both the Teensy and the sex toy; I’ll have to cobble together a recharge/regulator circuit of some sort, but it should let me get the finished gadget very, very small indeed.

The Teensy people don’t understand something that Apple does: User experience matters. The Teensy board is unlikely ever to knock over the Arduino as the reigning champ of DIY microcontrollers, even though the Teensy is smaller and has better technical specifications, because the user experience when it comes to programming a Teensy is, to put it bluntly, abysmal.

You don’t get no Arduino-style all-in-one IDE and device programmer, where you can type code into a window and press a button and bam! The device is working! Oh, no. The Teensy requires you to install a gcc compiler, then type your code in a text editor, run it through gcc with make, and then load the resulting hex file onto the board with a loader program. It’s archaic and barbaric, and it brings back memories of my Programming 101 class in college, in which I wrote 8080 assembly on a CDC Cyber 760 mainframe, compiled it to a hax hex file, copied it onto a floppy disk, then ran it on a CP/M machine using a hex loader.

Someone, please kill me now.

There is, though, an Arduino IDE plugin for the Teensy, and though it’s a bit weird and doesn’t run all Arduino code, it looks like it should work for me.

The Mathematics of Sex Toys Made Tangible

A while back, I posted a picture of a very early prototype sex toy designed to prevent its wearer from getting off.

This project is entirely separate from, and shouldn’t be confused with, the prototype sex toy that’s operated by the wearer’s brainwaves, which I’m still working on. The sex toy that is designed to keep the wearer from getting off, which I’ve started calling the “Tormentor,” is a vibrator connected to a programmable controller board that’s set up to run at random intervals with random pauses in between–perfect, in other words, for keeping whoever’s wearing it always aware of it, while not letting that person get enough stimulation to reach orgasm.

The very first proof-of-concept version was basically a bare controller board tethered to a laptop and connected to a vibrating egg. As it wasn’t exactly portable, it wasn’t able to do what I wanted, which is to be worn around while shopping or doing housework or otherwise going about one’s business.

So I started working on getting a more portable, self-contained version set up and running.

Click here for details, schematics, and pictures of the prototype being assembled

Fragments of Frolicon: There and Back Again

It is a fact of life universally acknowledged by sages and fools alike that the best candy in all the world is to be had from strangers.

And emanix is stranger than most.

As long-term readers of this blog will no doubt remember, I first met her at Frolicon in Atlanta in years gone by (well, three of them, at least). Frolicon, for those unfortunate enough never to have been there, is one of the high points of the year; a weekend-long festival of depraved, kinky debauchery the likes of which to make the Marquis de Sade blush and the Pope kick a hole in a plate-glass window. It is also one of the relatively few times of the year when I can count on seeing my sweetie joreth and the various members of my Tampa family.

Lon-term readers of this blog are also no doubt aware that I generally chronicle the various goings-on in my life weeks, or even months, after the fact. So it is with this post.

I didn’t expect to make it to this year’s Frolicon, truth be told. My finances have been a bit of a shambles lately, and it’s rather more expensive to get there from Orlando than from Tampa. However, a certain bunny named emanix, who as I may have mentioned before is rather strange and also has rather good candy, stepped in at the last moment like a leporid angel from on high and volunteered to fly me out there, in exchange for (ahem) certain services to be negotiated later (ahem). Best still, she had opted to arrive Stateside from the distant and exotic land of London-town early, and would be staying with my Florida peeps while enjoying all the hospitality that the United States has to offer (which, this being a declining late-stage civilization, means rather a lot, hospitality being one of the few things that declining late-stage civilizations in general have left to offer), and so offered to bring me out early as well.

Tales of my various exploits concerning mad science with modified EEG toys and sexual stimulation having preceded me, it was decided by joreth (with, I believe, some input from datan0de and emanix and perhaps others) that rigging up an EEG for Frolicon was in order.

So, once I arrived in Florida, I was tasked with soldering…

No, wait, I take that back. Once I arrived in Florida, I was kidnapped from the airport, blindfolded, bound, and tossed in the back of a car by emanix with driving assistance from datan0de, and brought in a severely sleep-deprived and jetlagged state to an undisclosed location, whereupon I was subjected to the most appalling of sexual torments which I shall not disturb you with, Gentle Readers, on account of the fact that they might…disturb you.

I was then transported, also with emanix, to joreth‘s place, whereupon I was tasked with soldering together another Arduino/MindFlex toy EEG setup for doing a bit of Mad Science.

Having had the experience of doing this once before, I opted to make some changes to the hardware, by rigging up a switch which could be given to the victim guinea pig experimental subject to depress on the occasion of orgasm, which would write “Orgasm Switch Depressed” into the datastream upon such event and “Orgasm Switch Released” upon its conclusion, the better to have exact markers which would tell us later exactly at what point said orgasm occurred.

I have, as a side note, now made exactly two Arduino projects myself, the first of which has an orgasm switch and the second of which has a sexual torment LED. That probably says something about me…but I digress.

When the Mad Science rig was tested and known to be working, it was time to be off to Frolicon.

There is a Christian group in the United States which has several times in the past predicted the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus. The destruction of all creation in the final battle at Armageddon have thus far failed to materialize, though that has not prevented that particular group from continuing to predict its exact date.

This time around, they were certain enough of their predictions–which, as near as I can tell, are based in equal parts Bronze Age mythology, numerology, marketing hucksterism, paranoid schizophrenia, and interpretation of Sarah Palin’s fame as one of the signs of the End Times (that last of which, I do have to admit, is hard to argue with)–to spend a huge bundle of money on a billboard campaign advertising the end of the world, though what one is supposed to do with the information is a mystery which escapes your humble scribe.

One of the billboards in question was located in Orlando, near to joreth‘s house, so I snapped a picture of it for the lulz.

I have no doubt that it will keep getting funnier and funnier as time goes on. zaiah and I actually hosted a party on May 21, which is in fact the second end-of-the-world party I’ve hosted (the first in 1988), and it just never gets old.

Picture taken, we were well and truly on our way.

The drive up to Atlanta is pretty grueling under the best of circumstances.

The best of circumstances don’t generally involve a high-speed blowout on interstate 75 in the rural north of Florida. This particular trip, which emphatically was not the best of circumstances, did.

We replaced it with the little Go_kart thing that automotive manufacturers laughingly refer to as a “limited service spare” and were soon back on our way, searching for a service station that was still open and staffed with folks who wouldn’t kill and eat sexual deviants such as ourselves.

We found such a place without a great deal of fuss and with no casualties…

…whereupon we learned something new and unfortunate. Well, two new and unfortunate things…no, wait, three new and unfortunate things, now that I think about it.

The first was that another tire was quite frayed and ready to explode with little provocation, rather like any Middle Eastern country with Internet access these days.

The second of those three things was that the size of tire on joreth‘s car was exotic and not easily available in the backwoods of rural Florida.

The third of those three things was that such tires, which could be procured in a few hours’ time from a nearby town which had such newfangled amenities as electricity and running water, were hella fucking expensive.

The fourth of those three things was that small service stations in rural Florida are not generally the normal habitat of the European carnivorous candy-bunny.

But such ordinary garden-variety trials are not to stand between a gang of seasoned, veteran perverts and debaucheries the likes of which to make a Roman emperor weep, so we bucked up, walked to a local fast-food establishment, and waited.

The fast-food establishment in question, whose name is now long forgotten by your humble scribe, offered tea, which evidently is a beverage quite popular in London-town, so the bunny was soon in (moderately) better spirits.

It was also connected to a small store where one could buy a wide range of goods of dubious merit, such as police radar detectors, small plastic novelty items designed to be affixed to one’s dashboard, and inexpensive DVDs of movies that came and went in the theaters in less time than it takes a B meson to decay into J/ψ mesons in the Large Hadron Collider.

The store also sells Southern Pride stickers, which I was quite amused to note are made in China. Guangdong province, I reckon.

There is a rule of the Internet, called Rule 34, which says that if anyone anywhere is interested in something, there exists porn of that thing on the Internet. (There is another, lesser-known rule, Rule 36, which states that if anyone anywhere is interested in something, there exists a knitting pattern for it on the Internet.)

Rule 34 has let me down, though, for it would seem that there is in fact no Viking kazoo porn on the Internet.

However, datan0de and femetal own both a Viking hat and quite a startling number of kazoos, and I own a camera, so we resolved that we would make use of the London candy-distributing carnivorous rabbit and these things to fill this much-needed gap.

Alas, this photograph is the closest thing that exists to Viking kazoo porn, as we simply did not have time to do as we had planned to do. We arrived at the convention rather later than we had expected, and scarcely had time to settle ourselves before it was time for joreth and emanix to put Operation Wifebeater into effect…

…but more on that later. I would write more of Operation Wifebeater, a carefully-choreographed conspiracy of obscenity the like of which would make a Greek god shudder, but I have four-week-old kittens to play with.

Sex for Science! Chapter 3: It’s All About the Protocol

Sex for Science! Chapter 0
Sex for Science! Chapter 1
Sex for Science! Interlude
Sex for Science! Chapter 2
Sex for Science! Chapter 3
Sex for Science! Chapter 4

Our accommodations and my partner in Science’s socks properly admired, it was time for business. Err, science. The business of science. And, um, stuff.

The motel did, amongst the amenities we didn’t need (like the bullet hole), provide the amenities that we did–namely, a bed, a door, and, once the office staff had got ’round to realizing the room was occupied, electricity.

The door was problematic. It had a fist-sized hole in it, which one does not normally expect to see in doors; but it did not have a doorknob or latch, which one normally does.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the front door, but rather the door between the suite’s living room and bedroom. The bedroom did come equipped with a bed–two of them, in fact. And, unlike a certain bed in a certain room atop a curtain turret in a certain castle in the south of France, the beds in this room seemed reasonably solid and unlikely to collapse at the slightest jouncing.

Which was good, as there is a possibility that the sudden and unexpected collapse of a bed might alter a subject’s brainwave activity, resulting in erroneous data that might be difficult to interpret.

My mad scientist partner and I checked the structural integrity of the bed, to help ensure first and foremost the validity of the data we planned to collect and also, as a helpful side benefit, the safety of our experimental subjects. When one is doing mad science, safety is job…well, safety is something one considers.

She had brought a photographer with her, so while the photographer started to set up we talked experimental protocol. If you’re doing anything for Science, including sex, you can’t just sit down and get right to it; you need to establish a methodology that helps to control for confounding factors and that has a reasonable shot at providing a clear answer to a specific question.

This is the bit that a lot of people get wrong when they try to understand the world around them. Take, for example, the popular old saw “you have to hit rock bottom before you can change.” What does ‘rock bottom’ mean, anyway? Having things go bad is often a catalyst for change, sure…but if one person loses a job and changes his behavior, another person loses a relationship and changes a behavior, and a third person loses his house and family and changes a behavior, which one has hit ‘rock bottom,’ whatever that is? Until you start losing limbs, you always have further down you can go. The concept of ‘rock bottom’ is poorly defined, just because the old saying sounds somehow better that way.

But I digress.

Our objective for this particular experiment was to see whether or not the Neurosky chip could detect any pattern of brainwave activity that was typical for sexual arousal but different from other states not related to arousal. To that end, she worked out a protocol that involved taking a set of baseline readings from each person while reading silently, meditating, and reciting a memory. That done, we would then record for fifteen minutes while each victim subject’s partner sexually stimulated that person. At the end of each session, there were exit questions involving asking the test subject for a subjective assessment of level of arousal and level of nervousness (to help control for whether or not nervousness was what the EEG was recording). During all this, a note-taker would be timing the events and recording anything that could present an anomaly on the EEG, as well as observations of each subject’s behavior.

My partner in science brought one of her partners along–the mutual friend who’d introduced the two of us on Twitter and made the whole thing happen. He brought a netbook to record data and a really nifty necklace with a microphone and a bunch of LEDs that would glow and change according to the ambient sound. That bit became interesting a little later on, as it turns out.

Photo gear (for the subjects willing to be photographed), netbook, modified Mattel Mindflex, and Arduino in pace, we were ready to start.

I’ll skip over the next few hours, as it was for the most part nothing but people putting on the MindFlex, doing a bit of reading and meditating and stuff, and then lying still and being sexually stimulated in various ways. I would hate to bore you with the details. Such details are the stuff of scientific research, but when described in black and white, they tend toward the drab and tedious: “Subject number three spread her legs while her partner slowly kissed his way down her body, until at three minutes and sixteen seconds reaching her clitoris, at which point the subject began to moan and…” You get the idea. Pretty dry stuff, right?

There are a few minor points that do bear mentioning, though. The striped socks did come into play again at one point, when the photographer got this rather awesome shot:

The second was the interesting way in which the necklace I mentioned previously would react when my fellow mad scientist was screaming, which was, in my estimation, pretty damn nifty.

The third, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is that the English language has no word to describe the experience of watching a pierced, tattoed woman you’ve only just met have a huge, screaming orgasm, then pull off the electrodes for the EEG machine, roll over, and start talking about sex-based differences in brain activation during sexual arousal. Dear God.

Now, at this point I have a confession to make, which, Dear Readers, I am trusting not to impact too severely your opinion of your humble scribe. I may lose some of my street cred as a veteran, seasoned pervert, but in the interests of fulldisclosure (for Science!) there is a confession I feel I must make.

I had not, up until this point in my life, actually had an orgasm in front of people I didn’t know personally. Oh, sure, I’d been to sex parties and played in public dungeons; I mean, really, who hasn’t? But until that afternoon in that seedy motel in the industrial part of Seattle, I’d not gone that one last inch (so to speak).

That all changed, though, and opened the way to a repeat performance, of a sort, in the dungeon at Frolicon some months later…but more about that at a later time.

I was rigged up, the baseline measurements were made, the timer was started, zaiah started doing things to me, and I in fact did have some incredible screaming orgasms of my own.

Four of them, in fact. I was right on the edge of the fifth when the fifteen-minute mark rolled by, and was left shaking and frustrated right on the edge. Much, I might add, to the delight of the onlookers, who seemed perhaps less than fully engaged in sympathy for my plight.

Experiment finally over, we parted ways. The Seattle folks went back to wherever Seattle folks go when they aren’t in run-down motel suites doing impromptu brain research about sex, and the rest of us headed out to dinner.

The dinner turned into a bit of a scientific enterprise itself, during which we attempted to establish a set of parameters by which we could decide whether key lime pie was a superior dessert to New York cheesecake…since, y’know, we were in the mood for Science and all. And, as it turned out, key lime pie is indeed a superior dessert. This is the sort of surprising result that one sometimes discovers when exploring the often counterintuitive ways of the physical world.

We only shocked the server once, with a passing reference to Eiffel Towering (the sex act, not the act of visiting the French landmark). That done, it was back to the motel suite, where I fell into a deep slumber and, I’m told, missed some more sexual hijinks of some sort or another.

On the way home the next day, we made a couple of interesting discoveries, which I will detail in the next chapter.

Sex for Science! Chapter 2: Orgasms and Striped Socks

Sex for Science! Chapter 0
Sex for Science! Chapter 1
Sex for Science! Interlude
Sex for Science! Chapter 2
Sex for Science! Chapter 3
Sex for Science! Chapter 4

Apparently, I have a thing for striped socks.

I’ve never realized this before. I don’t know if it’s a new thing, this thing for striped socks, or if it’s just been lurking there in some far corner of my brain, latent, awaiting the day when the whims of fashion would free it from its dark, lonely cerebral cage.

Once lapis-lazuli had departed back for San Francisco, with its cold and its fog and its hypothetical approach to traffic control, we started getting serious about doing some brain scans for Science. My fellow mad scientist who’d contacted me on Twitter and I began proposing dates and experimental protocols, and I started casting out feelers (as one is wont to do) for some victims experimental volunteers willing to be rigged up to an EEG and sexually stimulated for Science.

One of the places I inserted a feeler happened to be one of the local poly groups, because hey, we all know that polyamorous people are easy to talk into being experimental subjects, right? It kinda goes with the territory. Once you’ve cast monogamy to the wind, it’s a long and slippery downhill slide, and the next thing you know, you’re in some seedy motel in Seattle being hooked up to experimental equipment and–

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We picked a date, and I made an announcement at one of the poly groups I attend about searching for volunteers for a bit of kinky mad science. A new couple, recent imports from Australia, had decided to attend that particular meeting, and they both signed up with enthusiasm.

I like folks who’re not only not put off by that sort of thing, but are willing to say “Sure! I’d love to head off to a different city with a bunch of folks I’ve only just met and engage in sex acts while being monitored by brain-scanning equipment!”

When the appointed day arrived, zaiah and I set out to pick up our Aussie volunteer lab rats and head off toward Seattle.

We had previously reserved a suite in a motel in downtown Seattle, carefully chosen for its location just blocks from where the EEG machine we were intending to use was stored. The EEG in question had recently been purchased by one of zaiah‘s sweeties and transported to a space in Seattle’s industrial district, and as it was large and cumbersome and heavy and quite delicate, we didn’t want to move it very far.

As it turned out, that wasn’t an issue, though again I’m getting ahead of myself.

What we didn’t realize, when we reserved the suite, was that it was in The Worst Motel In Seattle. And I say that with confidence, even having not personally visited every motel in Seattle, simply because it would be impossible for any motel to be worse without actually being under active NATO artillery bombardment.

The Web site, with its carefully retouched photos, promised us a stove and refrigerator in our suite. What it didn’t mention is that the stove would have had its burners and most of its guts stolen by previous tenants, nor that the refrigerator would not actually work. When we arrived, there was no power to the room; the office switched on the power about five minutes after we checked in.

The Web site also didn’t tell us about the mural.

Dear sweet Jesus on a pogo stick, the mural. It would have been considered tacky by 1977 standards, and that’s no lie.

The suite also featured such amenities, testifying to a careful attention to detail overlooked by more pedestrian sleazy motels, as a fist-sized hole in the door separating the front room from the bedroom, and a bullet hole in one of the windows:

The only thing the motel staff didn’t think to provide us with that might have completed the experience was a sniper on the rooftop across the alley.

Setting up for the experiment itself turned out to be a bit problematic. I brought volunteers and lab jackets, but unfortunately, the EEG itself had, upon inspection, turned out to have been damaged when it was transported to the place where it was being stored. My erstwhile mad scientist partner had spent the entire night attempting to repair it, only to discover that the programming manual for it had somehow gone AWOL as well.

All was not lost, however. It just so happened that with an Arduino and a toy MindFlex game, it’s possible to rig up a crude but still effective (at least for my purposes) EEG. The MindFlex toy uses a Neurosky chip, which seemed fitting, as the experiment had gone full circle and come home to roost, or something like that. The Arduino/MindFlex combination is pretty close to what I intended to use for a brainwave-controlled sex toy, so while it was less than perfectly ideal to my fellow mad scientist, it was ideal for my own nefarious purposes.

At least the nefarious purposes involving sex toys and EEGs. I have other nefarious purposes, at least one of which involves commandeering an alien armada of space battleships…but I digress.

Technical difficulty resolved, I finally met my partner in mad science in the flesh for the first time:

I paused long enough to admire her fabulous striped socks (about which more later) and she paused long enough to admire our fabulous motel suite, and we were ready to start with the Science.

I’m still not quite sure which was more fun, being the experimenter or being one of the lab rats volunteers. But that will have to wait for the next chapter, which is the good bit and has kinky sex in it.