Read the full article by Hallie Lieberman and Maxine Lynn at

Last month, part one of this column covered the first-ever sex toys that were patented (claiming various non-sexual uses).

By the 1970s, more individuals were openly mentioning that their vibrators were intended to be used for sexual pleasure in their patents, but they were careful to mention that the only type of sex you should be using a vibrator for was sex within marriage. One 1975 patent for what looked like an electric toothbrush with a variety of “stroking” attachments maintained that “many causes of incompatibility between married couples can be traced directly to apparent sexual deficiencies which are psychological in nature rather than physiological.”

The main way to get rid of the psychological blocks, according to the patentee, was to show men and women that there was nothing wrong with their sexual physiology. Hence the vibrator supposedly did just that by showing “frigid females” and impotent males that their “sex organs were physiologically sound.”

Modern teledildonics has progressed beyond simple remote control of vibrators. A 2014 patent application, filed by sex toy manufacturer, Kiiroo, describes a vagina-like device, which is remotely controlled by a penis-like device. The vagina-like device has elements that constrict in tandem to squeezing a first user’s penis in response to the depth (as determined by sensors) of the penis-like device in a second user’s vagina. This appears to give the penis the feeling of sliding in and out of a vagina. Kiiroo’s products, the Onyx (the penis-like device) and the Pearl (the vagina-like device), are currently on the market in their second versions.

The next frontier in teledildonics is bidirectional control. Bidirectional control refers to two sex toys that control each other. For example, a penis-shaped device controls a vagina-shaped device while the vagina-shaped device controls the penis-shaped device. A 2015 patent issued to Sparq Laboratories, Inc. on “Systems and Methods for Haptic Stimulation” appears to be directed to exactly that. The actions of one device are echoed to the other to create a “biomimetic” experience for the users, i.e. providing a simulation of “real” sex.


Maxine Lynn is an intellectual property attorney with the law firm of Keohane & D’Alessandro, PLLC, having offices in Albany, N.Y. She focuses her practice on prosecution of patents for technology, trademarks for business brands and copyrights for creative materials. Through her company, Unzipped Media Inc., she publishes the Unzipped Sex, Tech & the Law blog at

Hallie Lieberman is the author of “Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy.” She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2014, with a dissertation on sex toy history. Her writing has been published in Bitch, Bust, Eater, The Forward and Inside Higher Ed, among others. She is often featured on podcasts such as “In Bed With Susie Bright” and Bitch Magazine’s “Popaganda.” She has given talks at many university events and conferences. She lives in Atlanta.