No, I haven't been living under a rock. Yes, I've heard about Durex Fundawear.

I really have very little snide and belittling to say about it. I think they actually did a pretty fucking good job. If the dude that lead the design team had not decided to go the "we're the first EVAR" route, this would be a completely positive article. But we can't have everything we want.

Durex Fundawhat?

If you haven't heard about the Durex Fundawear, watch these two things first so I don't have to be all SPOILERS and shit.

Oh my sweet fucking jesus at the time of this writing there's 3.6 MILLION views of that video. This is what happens when a company that knows their brand decides to use it.

The "How they did it" video:

Basically, arduino with some sort of network shield, and cell phone vibrators. Hey, interaction design students, remember when this was your junior year project? Remember how many views your project video got? KNEEL TO YOUR ESTABLISHED BRAND GODS.

Don't worry, though. Someday you too can grow a sexy scruffy beard and a plaid shirt and be a tech lead at a fancy design firm and call yourself the first in the world to do something that was first talked about almost 40 years ago and has been on the market since the 90's and that I've blogged and taught workshops on for years and helped make a dedicated arduino shield for and is now a common IXD student project. I WON'T BE BITTER.


No. Really. See Also:

"Underwear and touch and remote presence is something that's never been done"

"This is a project about transferring touch across mass distances, and that's a first, globally."

  • Ben Moir, dude that doesn't do his fucking research

So, a few quick references for ya.

Grr. No one ever let this man get robotics based surgery with haptic controls. Because it obviously doesn't exist.

Ok. I feel better. I'll stop now.

The Facts

According to someone on twitter who knows these things, Fundawear is simply an experiment. Only 10 sets of them exist. Durex is contemplating commercialization.

Even so, this is getting a LOT of press. Last I checked there were 10's of articles on major sites about this, and 3.6 million hits over 3 days isn't too shabby for a sex tech project.

The Good Parts

Ok, with that out of the way, let's get on to why I like Fundawear.

It's accessible. It isn't insertible, it's just wearable. One of the major freakout factors of sex toys is that you have to put something in them or put them in you. Then you have to hook it to a piece of hardware that you may not even trust to make phone calls or print pages, much less manipulate your bits. With Fundawear, well, you have to put yourself in it, yes. But that's not quite the same.

Expanding on the lack of bits manipulation, Fundawear seems more like a foreplay toy than an in the act toy. It's a way to caress someone's erogenous zones over distances, versus poke/stroke them. This means less to go wrong because you aren't promising orgasm, you're just promising tickling. That's a far easier promise to fulfill than the "GONNA MAKE YA CUM" of most sex toys.

While I rant and rail about how it's got all of the creativity of a student project, it's also as easy to grasp as a student project. A lot of the work I do around teledildonics isn't really graspable by those that aren't familiar with the tech world. Fundawear keeps it simple enough to let people go "Oh. I touch this thing and I move that. Awesome."

There are lot of problems of current teledildonics that Fundawear either skirts or just plain solves.

  • Obtaining: Durex has access to a LOT of storefronts that usual teledildonics devices do not. They could easily ship this to stores that will stock it next to their condoms, winning the impulse-buy market flat-out compared to online buy-and-wait.
  • Interface: Since you're caressing areas, not manipulating nono zones, you can be a lot more playful. It's just fun, not a means to an end.
  • Usage Interruption: One of the big problems with teledildonics is that it's usually attached to data streams like video conferencing. There's a LOT that can go wrong with this, especially if you're in the middle of doing... things. Since Fundawear is just foreplay, having disconnection issues isn't quite as jarring.
  • Cleaning: Just throw it in the wash! Not so easy with dildos or tubes or whatever.

The Iffy Parts

Outside of my own ranting above, there's really not a lot that's outright wrong with this project. It's an experiment, and I think it works well as that. It'll hopefully get people thinking more about remote sex via technology, in ways that are accessible to those that won't just stick whatever in whatever 'cause there's some circuits in it (STOP JUDGING ME).

Returning to my above point about the simplicity of Fundawear, I also wonder if that might be its downfall as a product. It seems like the initial experience is pretty powerful. But if commercialized, what would reuse be like? I have no stats about how things like Highjoy or Sinulate were used/reused by consumers, so I'm not sure what kind of precedents we have thus far.

Turning Fundawear into a product seems difficult. It's presented as undergarments that have the vibrators embedded. Actually making undergarments that will fit a majority of people is no small task. This is one place where sex toys excel. We can assume they'll either be pokey or poked in, and that people have pokey or pokey-inny (or both!) bits for them to be used on, probably of a certain size. The larger the surface area of the body you have to cover with your product, the more complicated things become. They could easily make this a clip-on system so it would work with whatever you might already have (and hugely increase their market share as people add it to fetish garments instead of just underwear), which could solve this problem.


It's kinda awesome to see big brands venturing into wearable intimate interfaces in a way I don't hate. We've gotta get a market around this stuff one way or another if it's ever to be viable, and I've seen a lot of false starts and stupidity. While not wholly original, Fundawear seems like a good beginning toward mainstream realization of sex tech.