Has technology gone too far? Introducing the i.Con

In 2007, American company Fitbit founded their company selling wireless and wearable activity trackers, aiming to make users around the world more aware of their fitness levels. In 2016, an English company, inspired by this idea, devised the Pitpat, the Fitbit for your dog. In 2017, the desire to keep track of our athletic abilities has taken one step further, as a Nottingham based company are soon to release: the i.Con.

Marketed as “the world’s first smart condom”, the i.Con is a digital ring that slides over a normal condom. Packed away neatly inside this ring is a nano-chip, and this is where the ‘smart’ begins.

The hidden nano-chip works somewhat like a regular Fitibit, meaning it can collect a worryingly wide range of data whilst the ‘act’ is taking place. This data ranges from calories burned (fairly acceptable) to duration of intercourse (somewhat intrusive) to even the number and velocity of thrusts (downright  creepy). In spite of the product retailing at a ludicrous price of £59.99, upwards of 100,000 people have signed up to receive updates concerning the release of the i.Con, which goes to show something about just how many people out there are concerned with their sexual performance.

Nevertheless, the i.Con does have a few redeeming features. The product also possesses the ability to detect STIs in the wearer, such as chlamydia and syphilis. According to Medical Daily, the ring has an ‘antibodies filter’ that sends an alert to the app when it detects proteins of antigens found in STIs.

Whilst no one will be wanting to receive that notification in the heat of the moment, any development in the field of sexual health deserves a certain amount of credit.

The added features of girth measurement and sex position monitor are a bizarre combination of comical and grotesque. What’s more, when finished, users will even have the option to share their statistics on social media – a prospect that makes the thought of withdrawing from the internet entirely highly appealing.

Such a function also raises an important question regarding privacy. Whilst the i.Con can only collect data from the wearer, intercourse ideally requires more than one person. It seems somewhat inequitable that your sexual partner could be sharing their data from your rendezvous with their entire friend list and you wouldn’t get a say.

Additionally, is sex not meant to be enjoyed, rather than measured? Introducing an element of statistics and figures would seem to have no effect other than turning what should be an intimate experience into a competitive sport.  Even if your best intent is to please your partner, it’s hard to imagine the desire to out-do one’s previous thrust count won’t be lurking in the background. Romantic.

Yet, more than anything, the invention of the i.Con reinforces how much technology drives the 21st century, and the extent to which it influences so many parts of our lives. In a world where technology is so significant in the office, the living room, and even the kitchen, it’s hardly surprising that it has followed us into the bedroom.

It raises the question of when do we stop, and when do we recognise we can get by without technology driving every fraction of our life? Not everything needs tracking, not everything needs to be measured, and certainly not everything needs to be put online.

It’s true that technology has made incredible changes to so many aspects of the world: gene therapy, nano architecture, the Cloud – all scientific break-throughs with monumental consequences.

The i.Con, however, falls far short of these achievements, and is perhaps a lesson that just because we have the knowledge to create such gadgets, doesn’t mean we should.

[George venios via flickr]

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