Online lovers plug in and turn on

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By Jordan Heath-Rawlings

How would you like to get all dressed up for sex? Instead of taking your clothes off, you could put on a suit — a special suit. A suit that would allow you to feel your lover’s touch from thousands of miles away.

Vivid Entertainment’s cybersex body suit, designed to send tickles and vibrations all over the wearer’s body, can make this happen.

The suit has 36 small conductors placed over sensitive spots on a person’s body and plugs into a computer. An online partner uses the mouse to deliver the desired effect — tickles, buzzes, or licks — to the appropriate place on the wearer.

The suit is not for sale yet because it has a tendency to short circuit when it comes into contact with body fluids. But it’s just one of many products being developed to make cybersex feel more like real sex.

“These ideas have been dreamed before by science fiction writers and movie makers,’ says Mary Madden, professor of Exploring CyberseXualities at San Francisco State University. “They are just beginning to become realities.”

Madden developed Exploring CyberseXualities, the first course of its kind in North America, to examine the growing relationship between sex and technology.

She’s been teaching it since 1999, when it became clear there was a market for devices that create more stimulation than typing with one hand and jerking off with the other.

The collision of sex and technology has already changed even the simplest form of Internet sex — the chat room.

Why type to your lover when you can see them live and in colour? One-on-one cybersex chats are being replaced by graphic, one-on-one video conferences. With software such as Microsoft’s NetMeeting, created for business teleconferencing, microphones and webcams and are being used to create online sex shows.

Using the chat room for cybersex is unappealing, says Madden.

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