HOPE XI: Hacking Sex

Hacker culture celebrates technological empowerment: encouraging people to move beyond passive consumerism towards building and modifying technology to better meet their own needs. Hacking sex means expanding our definition of “sex”; recognizing that no two of us have the exact same biology, (a)sexuality, or desires; and building and modifying toys and equipment to enhance our own pleasure.

On July 23, 2016, I presented a talk entitled “Hacking Sex: Toys, Tools, and Tips for Empowerment and Pleasure” at HOPE XI. Here you’ll find the video, my slides, and lots of additional resources.

Unfortunately, the recording failed to capture my demo of The Hammer! Starting around 15:13, imagine that you’re seeing something like this:

Kit stands sideways to the camera as their glowing dildo, The Hammer, lights up the wall behind them.

Since we don’t have video of my Hammer demo at HOPE XI, here’s a bit of footage to give you a taste of what you missed.

Talk Slides

References and Resources

If you missed my HOPE X talk, “The Sex Geek as Culture Hacker,” you can watch it and find many additional resources here.

What Is “Sex”and Technological Empowerment

Crowdfunded Sex Toys

Unfortunately, I had to cut most of my material on crowdfunded sex toys from this talk for lack of time. Here is the complete set of slides and links:

The Sex Toy Patent Troll

3D Printing


Wrap-Up & Additional Information About My Work

Conference Flowchart Scaled GIF

Questions & Answers

  1. How do you measure someone’s arousal level if you’d like a toy controlled by biofeedback? Use air pressure to measure their anal sphincter contractions! I first saw this technique used in the PSIgasm (which I do not believe is under development anymore).I also mention a friend of mine from teasecraft-boston who’s created nogasm , “software and hardware for Arduino-based orgasm prediction/detection” which he uses for orgasm denial. He also measures arousal level using air pressure via a butt plug.
  2. Is there anything medically involved in my transition to being non-binary? I should have mentioned that taking care of my mental health throughout this process has definitely been important (shout-out to my awesome therapist!). I point the question-asker to this awesome piece by Sam Dylan Finch (@samdylanfinch), “These 7 Assumptions About Non-Binary Folks May Be Hindering Your Trans Allyship.”  My transition wasn’t particularly visible — I didn’t start dressing differently, taking hormones, or having surgery — but every non-binary person’s experience is different.Here’s the GIF I was talking about:
    Top text: Me and My Gender. Actor Simon Pegg from one of the Mission Impossible films looks unhappily between two options, "Being a woman" and "Being a Man"
    Here are some more resources around gender and being non-binary that you might find helpful — these five pieces are what I sent my parents when I came out as non-binary to them:
    GLAAD Media Reference Guide – Transgender Issues
    What’s the Difference Between Sex and Gender? by Marina Watanabe
    What is Gender? by West Anderson
    What You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns by Sam Dylan Finch
    …and this fabulous comic, The Great Divide, by Justin Hubbell
  3. Has The Hammer been to any play parties? I’ve taken it out to show off — and queer folks love it! — but no, it hasn’t really seen much action.
  4. This questioner asked me to talk about Franklin Veaux (@franklinveaux) and the new toy he is co-developing with Eve Rickert (@everickert). Franklin has posted a description of the toy on his blog; their new company is Tacit Pleasures (and you can sign up for their newsletter for updates). The person wearing the device in the photo, who was demoing for Arse Elektronika, is the talented Andre Shakti (@andreshakti).
  5. Have I done research on “medical-grade” silicone vs. other silicone? Nope. Dildology.org was going to try and be the Consumer Reports of sex toys; that project is on hold right now as far as I know.
  6. Besides off-center weights, what other mechanisms can you use to create vibration in toys? This isn’t my area of expertise, but another audience member helpfully pointed out piezo buzzers. If you Google “piezo buzzer Arduino” you’ll find several tutorials.
  7. What are my favorite kinky/DIY sex toy projects? I was super excited about the HackOff by the now-defunct Orgasmatronics, Inc., as a way for people to learn to use the Arduino microcontroller by programming vibrators.The Eva Project (featured on this blog) is a DIY project to try and let someone with a vagina feel what it’s like to have a penis; it’s a less-sophisticated precursor to Franklin and Eve’s new toy above.
  8. Should the FDA regulate sex toys? Eeeep. This is not my area of expertise. It’s complicated.
  9. Comment: 3D depth cameras are becoming a thing! The RealSense by Intel is slated for release; the commenter says Xtion and Kinect cameras can be had on ebay relatively cheaply. There are some free trial and/or open-source software packages like Skanect for 3D scanning.

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