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Is sending your heartbeat the new sexting?
The latest trend in sex tech? Gadgets for people in long-distance relationships.
Long-distance relationships aren’t easy—if your heart doesn’t break, your wrist probably will within the first month—but thanks to Skype and remote sex toys, it’s never been easier to feel close to someone you love, even when they’re thousands of miles away. Now, there’s yet another gadget to bring you closer to your long-distance partner: Pillow Talk, a wearable that transmits your heartbeat through a tiny speaker you slip inside your pillowcase.
Launching on Kickstarter, Pillow Talk was invented by U.K. interactive design company Little Riot, as part of creator Joanna Montgomery’s university project. The device consists of two Bluetooth-connected wristbands, which record the wearers’ heartbeats and transmit them to each other via smartphone app. When you plug in your headphones or the pillow speaker, you can lie in bed and feel your partner’s heartbeat in real time.
Equal parts creepy and cool, the central conceit of the Pillow Talk is not a novel one. The Apple Watch, for instance, also includes a function that allows wearers to send their heartbeats to each other, and there’s a whole market of apps and wearables for long-distance couples to help them bridge the intimacy gap.
While we’re not sure if we agree with Mashable’s contention that “sending your heartbeat is the new sexting,” heartbeat tech is definitely an innovative way to tell your partner you’re thinking of them, without having to resort to sexting or smileys or heart emojis. Here are a few more gadgets like Pillow Talk that’ll help you tell your partner how you feel, without having to take your underwear off.
For Valentine’s Day 2013, the long-distance calling company Rebtel launched an app called Rebtel Re:Beat, which allows users to transmit their heartbeats to each other in real time. The smartphone app records your heartbeat, then lets you sync it up to a song and animation so you can send it to your partner via SMS or email. The suggested greetings for the message, such as “My heart beats for you” or “I’m just a heartbeat away,” are a little cheesy, but at least it’s more discreet and a little sweeter than texting a photo of your privates.
When the Apple Watch was unveiled last September, many pundits were particularly impressed by its heartbeat-sending function, which lets you wirelessly transmit your heartbeat or a slight tap on the wrist to an Apple Watch-wearing paramour. Intended to recreate the sensation of physical touch, the Apple Watch’s heartbeat feature was likely intended as a quirky novelty. But it didn’t take long for people to latch onto it as a way to enhance sexting, especially when paired with this (kind of creepy) hookup app.
Arguably the precursor to virtual intimacy technology, Like-A-Hug was created by designer Melissa Kit Chow as a way to deliver hugs via wireless technology. Basically, it’s a smart vest that links up to Facebook, so whenever you get a “like” on a post or status update, the vest inflates, “thereby allowing us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support, or love that we feel when we receive hugs,” Chow writes on her website. The device is similar to fashion tech company Cute Circuit’s “Hug Shirt,” a sensor-embedded garment that allows the wearer to wirelessly transmit a hug to a recipient wearing the same shirt.
Much like HowAboutWe’s You&Me, a dating app for people in relationships called Couple serves as a social network exclusively for two people: You and your partner. In addition to standard social networking functions like photo-sharing and messaging, Couple also includes a “ThumbKiss” feature, which lets you and your partner send simultaneous “thumb kisses” to each other by placing your thumbs in the same spot on your phone, thus making your phones glow red and vibrate simultaneously. It’s a cute and quirky way to let your partner know you’re thinking of them from far away, but with the vibrating function it could also easily double as a remote-controlled sex toy feature. So two birds, one stone.
Photo by Denise P.S./Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)
EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.