Surfers seeking sexual thrills are helping to inspire new and innovative technologies, according to a cyber-sex expert from the University of Portsmouth.
Dr Trudy Barber, an expert on cyberspace and sexual subcultures, made the claim during the Royal Society of Medicine's Sexual Pleasures conference this week.
Fetishism and sexual deviation are helping to change the way people use new technology, according to Dr Barber, and can even influence the invention of new technologies.
"People are inspired by their own sexual inclinations which results in some innovative uses of technology," she said.
"Nothing shocks me now, although I'm frequently surprised at how ingenious people are in order to obtain sexual satisfaction."
Dr Barber, who lectures on media studies, cyber-cultures and social theory at Portsmouth's School of Creative Arts and Media, defines cyber-sex as "computer mediated sexual contact" or "technologically mediated intimacy".
This can include anything from phone sex to someone using an attachment connected to a personal computer through which others in cyber-space can provide sexual pleasure.
"Computer technology touches so many aspects of our lives that it is really not so surprising that it infiltrates and influences our sex lives," said Dr Barber.
"In contemporary Western society sex is for pleasure and for entertainment and computers will have an increasing role to play."
Dr Barber's research took her to sites such as Second Life, where she found people quick to adopt sexual practices from their regular lives into their online personas.
"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," she concluded.
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