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Image credit: Daniel Cooper / Engadget

There’s no limit to the connected sex toys you can build at home

A look at Deviant Designs' other homemade adult toys.
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Daniel Cooper / Engadget

NSFW: This article contains links to and descriptions of explicit sexual acts including BDSM play that some may find uncomfortable. The individuals included in this report are consenting adults who observe proper safety procedures in their play.

The voice-enabled Mistress Alexa may be Deviant Designs' most famous creation yet, but it's only one of a fleet of smart sex toys that its creators have dreamed up. British couple Gary and Kirsty are building new smart devices for BDSM play on a monthly basis. Thanks to Arduino hardware and a 3D printer, there are few limits to what can be achieved with a little practice. I toured some of the other adult toys made in the last year.

The Punishment Pump

What: The Punishment Pump is a simple peristaltic device (think of it as a vacuum pump), in a 3D-printed enclosure, which is run by an Arduino board with a Bluetooth radio. The pump, when activated by one of the other toys in the collection, begins pushing a quantity of liquid through a small silicone pipe. The pipe is connected to a ball gag with holes drilled through the center, making it ideal for forced feeding and drinking. This could be used with water, or with another fluid or semi-fluid foodstuff that the recipient doesn't like.

Why: "Everything else had been reliant on the Shocky Clamps," explained Gary, "and this was a different method of punishing someone." He added that the choice of pump was because, thanks to the single piece of silicon piping, it's the most hygienic system for an amateur, and you can regularly replace it without fuss." The machine is designed to work very slowly, and it's more for the threat of use rather than anything more unpleasant. Gary said that he's "looking forward to seeing the look on [Kirsty's] face."

No-Touch Cuffs

What: The No-Touch Cuffs are a pair of slightly oversized handcuffs that are clamped around the submissive's wrists. The twist is that there are metal contacts on the outer ring that will activate a punishment device if touched. Consequently, the sub needs to hold their arms in the middle of the ring, like a kinky version of Operation. It uses a series of capacitive sensors wired up to an Arduino and a wireless transmitter that can activate other devices in the collection, whether it's the clamps, the pump or something else.

Why: "Just another predicament toy, really," said Gary. "It's going to be horrific to stay in position, but it helps me achieve my goal of taking her focus away from everyday life." Kirsty agrees, saying that they "play on her weaknesses," because she "has no ability to stay still."

The Shocky Maze

What: The ball maze has been reinvented as a BDSM device with the addition of an Arduino kit and a wireless transmitter. There are two end-points, at opposite sides of the maze, each holding a pair of metal contacts. When the light (indicating which end the ball needs to be in) activates, the submissive -- who has been clamped into the maze -- has fifteen seconds to get the ball to its destination. If they do, they complete the circuit and reset the timer. If they fail, then the punishment tools are activated.

Why: Kirsty explained that the device was conceived because she was "easily distracted" and so needed something to focus her attention. Gary added that the main focus of the maze is "to not give you a break, but have you constantly focused on what is going on." The system is powered by exactly the same Arduino setup as in the No-Touch Cuffs, albeit with a different twist.

iPad Gag

What: More lo-fi than many of the other toys, the iPad gag is fairly self-explanatory from the name. A ball gag with a wraparound mount sits in the submissive's mouth, holding an iPad Air 2 in front of their face. As Kirsty explains, "dribbling is inevitable."

Why: "Who doesn't love a bit of objectification," said Gary, "and it was just a fun thing to make her stand still because she doesn't like it." The device was inspired by the late Jeff Gord, a British forniphilia practitioner who ran House of Gord in the US until his death in 2013. He added that using the iPad in front of Kirsty's face makes the whole thing a little more humiliating.

Sir Says

What: A version of the game Simon, albeit with a wireless connection to a punishment device of your choosing. Like you might remember, the pattern begins relatively simply but gets increasingly complicated over time.

Why: "It's all about preventing you from losing concentration, you have to learn the sequence and put it in with no break at all," said Gary. Kirsty added that this toy, like many of the others, targets her "issues with a lack of concentration, an anxiety about getting things wrong and wanting to see things through to the end." She added that "it's a playful mindfuck."

The Toucher

What: A box houses a large button (on to which a small coin is glued) and a ring of LEDs. The button has to be pushed down at all times, or it triggers a punishment device.

Why: One game used in BDSM play is Nose to the Wall, in which the submissive must stand with their face pressed against a wall. In more demanding scenarios, they must continually hold a coin or piece of paper to the wall using only their nose. And this is Gary's "take on" the practice, and when the coin isn't being pushed down, the user is in pain. Kirsty added that "she wanted to do it out in public, with lights and shocks," and to that end, the box is magnetic, so it can be attached to street lights.

The Tugger

What: "It's just a strain gage nicked from a set of digital luggage scales," explains Gary. And it's housed inside a carbon-fiber enclosure and connected to an Arduino board. The dominant can set the system to demand a specific level of strain, or the opposite, and should the limit be breached, the usual punishments are to be expected.

Why: "I mean, it's stress positions, mainly," said Gary, "a lot of people create them with rope, but I'm not good with rope." Instead, he explained that "you attach some handcuffs to it, and she has to keep straining to pull her arms apart to avoid getting shocked." Of course, you can only do that for so long until your strength is depleted, "and then it's just picking the lesser of two evils: the shock or muscle cramp." Kirsty is a fan, not only in play but also as a way to help her resistance training, saying that her "six pack hasn't come on its own."

Blackout Goggles

What: A pair of active-shutter 3D goggles tweaked so the display can be opaque or translucent on demand. Can be used as a way of remotely robbing someone of their sight for short periods, or potentially for longer during sensory deprivation play.

Why: "We're still working on that," explained Kirsty, gesturing at one of the most recent projects, and the least-finished. Gary said he was inspired by an advert for an LCD screen that you could make opaque. After learning that 3D glasses could do the same job, he bought some and began wiring one up to an Arduino. A Bluetooth radio connects to an Android app, which acts as the remote control.

Electric Cuddles

What: Much like the Shocky Clamps, this repurposes a canine shock collar for the genitals, specifically Gary's. A 3D-printed enclosure bolts around the testicles, with electrodes poking into the scrotum. The remote control can then be used to activate the pain on the dominant's whim.

Why: "I built the bollock shocke... Electric Cuddles, really, to let Kirsty have some payback on me," said Gary. He designed it as a 3D-printed enclosure to ensure that it wasn't easily removed, making it more like a chastity device than a cock ring. "You have no access to them," he added, "they're taken away from you, and they're not yours anymore."

Gary's plan is that, eventually, all the designs for these toys will be available on Thingverse for others to build. "Right now, the issue is that everything needs a little explanation," he said, since the designs aren't clear enough to be easily replicated by third parties. The risk is that amateurs would attempt to build their own, and without his knowledge, find that it doesn't work.

In the future, he wants to make designs that can be easily customizable, so people can adapt them to their own needs. He has already been engaged in lengthy chats with like-minded product designers who have advised him on ways to improve his own hardware, too. "It's a fun learning experience," he added.

Oh, and if you're wondering why all of the toys are pink, it's because Kirsty hates the color.

Click here for part one of our exploration of Deviant Designs' homemade smart sex toys.

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