Five Women Driving the Female Sexual Revolution: Kate Devlin (computer scientist)
Kate Devlin has watched the advances in sexual robotics with interest – interest and a little dismay: as a computer scientist, Devlin was intrigued by the sex-tech industry and quickly noticed that it was geared, almost without exception towards male pleasure. When Devlin first began her research into the matter – research that culminated in her book Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots – sex dolls were just being integrated with robotics, and by the time it was published the first plasticly perfect sex-bots were rolling off the production line: all female and designed for male pleasure.
Devlin doesn’t believe that women want sex bots of this type, because desire and lust work differently in women than they do in men: it is the human connection, often, that makes the experience a positive one. With this in mind, Devlin organised the first sex tech hackathon in 2016 – a hackathon being an event at which tech experts spend anything from a few hours to a few days, brainstorming innovations in their chosen industry. It is a surprisingly effective way of boosting innovation, with the ‘hive mind’ effect of all those industry experts inspiring hundreds of new ideas and tweaks to existing products. Devlin’s focus was to find non-penetrative ways of inducing sexual stimulation, moving away from the male-centric focus that has dominated the industry for so long.
One example of the ideas that arose from the hackathon include a shawl that caresses body, another is the cloud of ‘rose petals’ that contain tiny vibration motors to stimulate wherever they touch. These unusual ideas would only have come about with the stricture that ‘normal’ penetrative toys were passe and that the inventors should aim for something a bit different. These non-penetrative toys are more than just geared for female pleasure though, they also open up the world of stimulation and pleasure to disabled people and those who are unable to use penetrative toys.All of the above makes Devlin a friend to the sex tech industry – the innovations inspired by her hackathon could influence and improve sex toys, opening up the world of sensual pleasure to those who might otherwise be left out.