Sex and technology

Several years ago, I designed a gizmo that was intended to allow people to control sex toys through an Internet connection. The idea was that you’d fire up a chat client, the person at the other end of the chat would have one of these things, and that person would plug some sex toys (up to three of them) into the gizmo. While you were chatting, you could switch the various toys on and off.

I actually tried building and selling these things, a project that was something of a flop–in part because of some design shortcomings, and in part because I don’t really have the money or resources to do something like this properly. I called the gizmo “Symphony,” and lost money on the project.

The Symphony design actually started as a phone-sex gadget; in the original conception, you’d plug the gizmo into your phone jack (remember those?), plug your telephone handset into the gizmo, and talk to someone on the phone. If your partner pressed buttons on the touch-tone phone, he could switch the sex toys plugged into the gizmo on and off.

For that reason, the Symphony works on DTMF–the shrill noises you hear when you push buttons on a phone. Basically, it’s nothing more than a DTMF decoder (that recognizes the buttons), a series of bi-stable latches, and three relays. When you push the buttons on the phone, the relays switch on or off, depending on which buttons you push.

In fact, there’s a schematic of the Symphony below this cut