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Going deep: The tech behind the Autoblow AI

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We recently introduced you to the Autoblow AI by VIECI (Very Intelligent Ecommerce, Inc.), an oral sex simulator for people with penises that’s currently crowdfunding and expects to hit the market in early 2019.

Following that launch, we caught up with with Brian Sloan, founder of VIECI and Autoblow, to learn more about the technology behind the headlines – one that’s eschewing the trend of working with interactive 2D and VR adult content.

Where’s the AI?

VIECI used machine learning and big data analysis in the development of the Autoblow AI – claiming to be the first company to use these technologies for creating sexual products. The process was so in-depth that VIECI ultimately published a paper about it – aptly titled the Blowjob Paper.

Over 108 hours of footage from pornographic videos featuring oral sex were watched and analyzed by staff. With footage normalised to 16 frames per second, the final dataset contained an enormous 6,270,467 normalized frames split into 1060 clips.

Developers then created a custom user interface to manually record the exact position of a mouth along the shaft of a penis at any given time as they watched the video footage.

“Our machine is the first sexual device ever that uses machine learning to understand human blowjob movements and replicate them,” Sloan told SEXTECHGUIDE. “We didn’t just tell a programmer, ‘create some actions’. We learned what human blowjob actions are, then recreated those human actions. That makes all the difference – both in the physical sensations experienced by users, and in the minds of men while using the product.”

The Autoblow AI’s ten modes, or user settings, each consist of a series of movements – up/down motions of the patent-pending penis stroking mechanism at a variety of speeds, powered by a built-in motor.

These movements and modes were developed from the evaluation of all those hours of pornographic footage. By splitting each video into one-second windows, taking the sequence of positions for each window to get a set of 16-dimensional vectors, and running the data through the K-Means categorisation algorithm, developers were able to find sixteen ‘clusters’ that  represent the most common oral sex techniques.

Autoblow AI data set

Putting the data to work

Using these clusters as a baseline, the VIECI team created a model to put these sixteen movements together into sequences. Based on a Markov chain, a system used to determine the probability of transitioning from any one state to any other state (so, for example, the probability that Movement 1 will be followed by Movement 1, or Movement 2, or Movement 3 and so on), this model generated sequences of movements representing the way that a human partner may perform oral sex.

That was then augmented with a more sophisticated Dense Neural Network (DNN) system, which expanded upon the findings of the Markov model and created sequences based upon both the last sixteen states and the probability of sixteen possible next states.

Ultimately, this in-depth research and data analysis created the sequences of movements that now form the ten modes of the Autoblow AI – all with the aim of “[helping] you enjoy blowjobs as they’re given in real life.”

“One example,” Sloan says of the way that this AI modelling helped build the product, “is our use of pauses in the different experiences offered. We learned that pausing during a blowjob is important and helps build up to a bigger and better orgasm. As a result, several of the modes of our machine pause during the action.”

One of the modes also features a “special enhanced AI experience,” which delivers different stimulation each and every time, and constantly changes technique until the user achieves climax or switches it off. “This recreates the unpredictability of real blowjobs,” Sloan explains.

Autoblow AI data set modelling

Autoblow AI is also the first product of its kind to have an ‘edging’ feature. Edging, for those who don’t know, is the technique of getting right to the edge of orgasm and then stopping all stimulation before climax. It’s often used as part of BDSM games, and can also be used during masturbation to deliver a stronger eventual orgasm.

On the Autoblow AI, the user simply hits the “climax control” button when they reach the edge, and then when they’re ready to continue, the AI remembers which setting and speed was last used. “Without this button,” Sloan says, “the user would need to turn off the machine [in order to edge] and then when he turned it back on, it would be in speed 1 mode 1, which would ruin his momentum completely.”

Unlike manual penis-stroking toys, the Autoblow works by “pulling a sleeve up and down instead of moving a cup,” Sloan told us. The user inserts their penis into the sleeve, and the plastic motor-powered gripper moves the sleeve up and down over the penis. “This allowed us to create a relatively small product that replicates the feeling of a hand and mouth gliding up and down over the penis,” Sloan explained.

The majority of male stroking sex toys, including the Autoblow 2, only work by stroking all the way up and all the way down the penis. The Autoblow AI, however, houses two magnetic sensors and an infrared beam sensor, which detect the location of the gripper and move it to any one of 250 different points, offering fine control of the movement.

“We look at an IR beam to see if it gets interrupted and how many times it gets interrupted to know how much the penis gripper moves up and down,” Sloan said. The IR beam shines through a small wheel with 45 holes in it, and the chip in the onboard microcomputer counts number of rotations and in which direction the wheel is spinning to determine the gripper’s location.

“Even with the sensor, its still very tricky to change the motor’s direction as quickly as we do because of the momentum,” Sloan adds. “It was not trivial to program it so that it doesn’t hit the top or bottom, taking into account the different speeds and modes, given that each one produces a different amount of momentum during the stroking action. We tested other types of sensors but this one proved to be the most reliable. The technology of these types of sensors is well developed for various industrial uses.”

Sssh!

The Autoblow AI is also quieter than previous models thanks to a change of tech in the gripper. “It all comes down to the way we convert energy into movement,” Sloan told us. “For the Autoblow AI, we built a lead screw directly into a motor to move the penis gripper up and down. There is simply less friction compared with the way Autoblow 2’s motor moved the gripper. There is also less pressure on the supporting beams that guide the gripper so the noise emitted from the plastic-on-metal or metal-on-metal is reduced. Less friction of parts on other parts means less noise.”

Unusually for a male sex toy, the Autoblow AI is mains powered. Sloan explained the reason for this: it uses a 12v 5a AC/DC adapter, which gives it 60 watts of power. The power of the motor and its level of torque – the force that produces rotation – is relevant as the way this product works requires quickly changing the direction of the motor, which uses a significant amount of power.

“As we need to use 60 watts,” Sloan explains, “the size of that battery would be a significant size issue overall for this product. There is no room inside the product, as it is currently designed, to contain a large heavy battery. And a smaller battery would not permit longer usage sessions due to the power constraint. A battery that size would also price the product out of the mainstream market, making it a specialist item that few would buy and stores would not stock.”

We’re looking forward to seeing the final product that will be the result of this cutting-edge sex tech, and keep an eye out for our full review in early 2019.

Read Next: 9 unmissable sextech podcast episodes to listen to right now

 

Amy Norton
Amy Norton is a writer, blogger, adult product reviewer and sex educator. She identifies as bisexual, polyamorous, kinky, a feminist and a survivor, among many other things. When she's not writing, she can probably be found reading, drinking coffee, or snuggling her two adorable cats. She lives in the UK with her primary partner. You can find her sex blog at coffeeandkink.me and follow her on Twitter @CoffeeAndKink.

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