Best of 2009: Dorking out with your dork out to the RealTouch

RTmatkLarry Flynt, the great man has admitted, lost his virginity to a chicken. I keep that in mind when I review sex toys that at first seem improbable.

So in announcing my pick for Marital Aid of the Year, I will remind you that the haptic sex robot known as the RealTouch can be, like the poultry that hatched Hustler, exactly the right thing at the right time. Not only for the individual masturbator, but for the adult industry in general

Put simply, the RealTouch is a machine to stick one’s dick in for an otherworldly rubout similar to being jerked off by the Borg. Utilizing a lube reservoir, heating coils, and soft (but adjustably firm) oppositional conveyor belts, the RealTouch is about the size of a football with an eager cheerleader’s sensibility.

While all this technology would doubtless make the RealTouch a great conversation piece, what makes the device extraordinary is the haptic feedback via its web component: Plug the RealTouch into a computer accessing the RealTouch server and the masturbator is rubbed, tugged, blown, and anally or vaginally accommodated by a choice of hundreds of his favorite porn stars via specially-coded videos.

Like the Nintendo 64’s RumblePak or Sony’s DualShock game controllers that mimic steering or crashing in videogames, RealTouch simulates the speed, friction, lubrication, and pull of sexual activity.

And it took two years and a roomful of haptic encoders in Charlotte, North Carolina to deliver a world-class Lisa Ann handjob to the consumer.

“During every planning meeting we had to get through a lot of ‘That’s what she said’ jokes,” said Scott Rinaldo, RealTouch’s project manager. “We had to go through videos frame by frame and develop the coding language to simulate someone getting it in the ass.”

RTmatk2RealTouch contracted two companies to facillitate the connections between each element in the system; the USB link between the computer and the RealTouch and then the video interface with the haptic controller. In the two years of development, prototypes of the marital aid were sent to a Los Angeles sex therapist for vetting.

“She’d suggest tweaks, like add a vibrating effect to replicate friction during sex,” said Rinaldo, or to make anal hotter than vaginal sex.

Jon Burger is director of haptic encoding for RealTouch, and led the team of programmers.

As the team got used to breaking down hundreds of porn videos (streamed by AEBN, an adult industry Video on Demand pioneer in possession of the world’s biggest online porn library), the process became streamlined.

A ten-minute porn clip can take eight to ten hours to encode, Burger said.

“Not only the vibrating and the heat,” said Burger, “but there’d be an ‘In’ transition – when the penis hits the orifice – and then an ‘Out’ transition. Then we control the intensity of the effects by setting nodes within the clip.”

“It takes a certain kind of meticulous individual,” he said. “We had to find people on the verge of neurotic.”

Most of the North Carolina encoders have girlfriends or wives, and have worked on the technical side of porn for years. So the hours of programming became a test of geek endurance rather than an erotic one.

“It does make your eyes glaze over,” Burger said, “but you can really dork out to it.”

I was sent the RealTouch (retailing at $199) in November but I could not plug it into my computer. One of the device’s downsides is that it is not yet Mac-compatible.

But this allowed me to cast a net for actual human beings who would be willing to try out the technology.

My criteria, beyond the necessity for the test subject to own a PC and be male, was simple: I didn’t want any L.A. liberal arts graduate hipster fulminating about how “weird” it was.

“Everybody already knows it’s weird,” I said.

RTmatk3As more than one person would be using this very personal device, I also needed each tester to clean it out thoroughly between uses.

I quickly found two men, one married with a baby on the way, and one who maintained that he “had no problem getting laid.”

I only lacked someone who did have a problem getting laid, which I can imagine is a significant portion of the RealTouch’s target demographic – someone who, by virtue of not needing to wine and dine ladies or wipe and diaper babies, has the financial wherewithal and time to buy the device and feed it with both lube and VOD minutes.

Regardless, my two subjects were as thorough and meticulous as the programmers who would assist their ejaculatory research.

Phil Flanken (not his real name, luckily) is in his early 30s and is a Hollywood comedy writer. His wife signed off on his participation in this experiment but I get the feeling she was not thrilled by it.

“I was frustrated after setting this thing up but mainly it was my fault for not reading the instructions,” Flanken said. “It’s actually pretty simple.  The videos buffered a little slowly at first but nothing terrible.  When I first put my dick in between these rubber ribbed conveyer belts I quickly pulled out as the rubber wasn’t lubricated enough – even after the machine did its “warm up” more than once – so it pulled on my skin a little.  I took some gel and rubbed it on me first and then placed it back in the machine.  Much better.”

After the quick process of setting up the machine and filling its lube reservoir, the user then downloads a Windows Media Player-compatible applet and logs into his RealTouch account. If there’s trouble, Flanken noted, there is 24/7 human tech support.

Flanken did not remember the videos he watched, but I logged in to see he’d been ogling Ashlynn Brooke, Tera Patrick, and Jenna Jameson’s “The Masseuse.” Each of RealTouch’s available videos is a point-of-view, or POV, scene that has been haptically retrofitted from its commercial release. In other words, the RealTouch only responds to its own videos.

“The ‘blow job’ motion felt better than the ‘Fucking’ motion,” said Flanken. “I skipped around a little and then, mainly fearful that my wife was about to walk in, just let myself get off as fast as I could by skipping to the end of the video.  When he ‘pulls out’ of the woman, she jerks him off. Then the machine on my dick tries to duplicate her motions by not being as intense, or stopping when she does… but it’s actually a little annoying as the truth is when you’re about to cum you don’t want to have the motions shifted in any way or it can screw you up.  That’s why girls like vibrators to be consistent.”

I reminded Flanken that I was the professional and that what girls did or didn’t like was above his pay grade. But Flanken liked the experience overall.

“The feeling of having something do the work was actually a little more pleasant than I thought it would be,” he said. “I’m used to a handful of lotion and going at it myself so this was new to me.”

And that is another thing that makes the RealTouch different. Sex toys for men often involve more work than something a professional on the go can take care of in a few minutes.

“Having the work done for me was a big plus,” Flanken said.

“Did it take a load off?” I said, trying to put blurbs in his mouth.

“Nice try,” Flanken said, but then noted the downside of having to log into my RealTouch account for the experiment:

“It’s kind of disturbing that you can look up what I jerked off to.”

This fear is known as spectomasturphobia and is the queasiness one feels when a third party discovers, by virtue of the tape paused in the VCR, the dog-ear (or splatter) on the Hustler centerfold, or the “Resume?” command on the DVD menu, exactly what coaxes a load from one.

Flanken’s biggest concern with the machine was its behavior in his home.

“My wife saw the machine drying in the bathroom and made fun of me,” he said. “She told me I was a loser and it was a turn off to think I’m fucking a machine.  She put it in my office where today I found my couch covered in the gel that was inside of the machine.  Even though the machine was cleaned out, the gel is supposed to stay in its own compartment.  But the shell that covers the device slips on and off very easily and there’s no way to ensure it won’t leak.  One has no choice but to lay it on its side, and that’s how it leaks.  So the RealTouch works pretty well in use but when not in use it’s a messy affair.”

RealTouch’s Rinaldo says that the device can be stored in such a way that it will not leak.

Zayin Gadol is also a Hollywood writer. His name is Hebrew for “big cock.” In the course of his affair with the RealTouch he brought several people to his home to look at it.

“My friends and neighbors have been coming down to check out the RealTouch,” he said. “Four people so far, two girls. They put their fingers in there and loved the feeling. One guy – a Mac user – said ‘this could make my finger cum.’

RTmatk4Gadol approached the RealTouch as if it were most of the answer to a prayer.

“Once you get over the fact that your dick is inside a machine, the only issues I had were technical,” he said. “It feels good and gets the job done but there is a lot of hassle involved. I don’t like the thick cable that runs out of the machine, it pulls the machine downward and makes you feel like you’re attached to something. I would recommend they either find a way to make it wireless or create an adjustable stand so you can focus your hands on the mouse and control the porn as opposed to having to hold the thing.”

Gadol also gave advice to would-be fellatio providers everywhere, by default saying the RealTouch did things exactly like real women:

“After you cum, you want your hands free to hit the stop button or it becomes painful,” he said. “Maybe a quick stop button on the actual device.

“A few other tweaks that I think would make the machine more user friendly would be a clear gauge on the side of the machine where the lube goes so you can see how much is in there, I think it ran out on me and it got really dry really fast.

“I would also add a feature that lets a guy control the machine manually if he doesn’t want to go with the rhythm of the porn. Maybe even a remote control, attached by wire or wireless, that works without the computer.”

This leads us to both a major criticism of the RealTouch as well as a stroke – pun intended – of marketing genius.

A user buys RealTouch minutes by which he can explore the huge library of straight, gay, and even anime porn encoded for his delectation. But if he finds a Bree Olson or Ashlynn Brooke scene that particularly works for him – and who wouldn’t? – he has to buy those minutes again.

“I see why a wireless option would create a problem if the company is trying to make additional income by selling minutes,” Gadol said. “Which brings me to my last suggestion. I would offer customers a price for the machine that comes with unlimited use instead of having to purchase minutes. They charge $199 now for the machine and you have to buy minutes, so offer an option to buy for $299 with unlimited use, kind of like what TIVO did when that concept first came out.”

Rinaldo says that a hands-free Bluetooth option is planned for later releases, and that the company will be rolling out longer-term rental options to placate those who can’t get enough of Bree.

The adult industry, faced like its Hollywood counterpart with falling DVD sales and piracy, is in need of the best menage a trois of hardware, content, and distribution, and AEBN president Scott Coffman thinks the RealTouch will be a hit.

Coffman founded AEBN (RealTouch’s parent company) in 1999 by offering his digitized porn warehouse for download at (at first) 56k speeds. As broadband became more available, AEBN pioneered porn’s Pay Per Minute model. He is circumspect about once again getting into the business of having a tangible inventory.

“The RealTouch marries our VOD material with a piece of hardware,” he said. “One cannot be used without the other.”

Which makes the RealTouch an innovative piratekiller that gives blowjobs, and therefore my Marital Aid of the Year.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Sucking cocks in hell-Porn stars discuss horror movies; Ava Rose-last, butt not greased; Swingers-they’re nit just in your rec room anymore
See also: RealTouch

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