Tech can hamper long-distance intimacy

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The old advertising slogan “Reach Out and Touch Someone” takes on new meaning with respect to vibrators that can be controlled through mobile applications. Experts tell us that these can help couples who are in a long-distance relationship, including frequent business travelers and military spouses. However, the devices’ effectiveness depends on the apps that control them.

The devices connect to your smartphone or tablet computer through Bluetooth technology. When you call your partner’s device, you control it through the app and can select different vibration patterns and intensities.

Ellen Barnard, who is a sex educator and counselor, says the devices are “nice for couples who are apart, to establish intimacy.” Her business, A Woman’s Touch Sexuality Resource Center, sells two brands, but she says that the apps can be “a little wonky.”

Manufacturers are working on improvements. We-Vibe says it tweaked the app for its We-Vibe 4 Plus in September 2015 to create a more reliable Bluetooth connection and add touch-screen control. Brian Dunham of OhMiBod, says his company moved its app to the manufacturer’s servers to improve remote connections and functionality. Eddy Olivares of device-manufacturer Lovense says new bugs appear whenever operating-system software is updated. “The last thing people want in the bedroom is app issues,” he says.

We found seven companies that produce app-compatible vibrators, and companies tell us that more are on the way as software and hardware development costs drop.

“I have heard from couples that these really help,” Barnard says. “Enhanced communication is the key to any sex therapy.”

T. Williams