People seeking sexual thrills online are inspiring "new and innovative technologies", a cybersex expert said today.

Dr Trudy Barber is due to speak at this week’s 'Sexual Pleasures' conference at the Royal Society of Medicine. She will explain how fetishism and deviation in sexuality are helping change the way people use new technology. She said cybersex can even influence the invention of new technology. 

Barber – an expert on cyberspace and sexual subcultures – has spent years researching how people's sexual choices help shape new technology, including the internet, which she likens to how the emergence of video players brought pornographic films into the home in the late 1970s. 

Innovative use of technology

"People are inspired by their own sexual inclinations which results in some innovative uses of technology," Barber, a senior lecturer in the School of Creative Arts and Media at the University of Portsmouth, said.  

"Nothing shocks me now, although I’m frequently surprised at how ingenious people are in order to obtain sexual satisfaction."

Dr Barber defines cybersex as "computer-mediated sexual contact or technologically mediated intimacy".

"This includes everything from phone sex to someone literally being wired up to a personal computer server through which others in cyberspace can access and give sexual pleasure."

Second Life

Virtual online worlds such as Second Life are also hotbeds for people looking to adopt the sexual practices from their regular lives into their second life. 

"Computer technology touches so many aspects of our lives it's really not so surprising that it would infiltrate and influence our sex lives. In contemporary Western society sex is for pleasure and for entertainment and computers will have an increasing role to play," she said.

"The role of deviation as a key to innovation must not be overlooked as it will contribute to our understanding of new intimacy, culture and the future of developing information and communications technologies."