Before my boyfriend (now husband) and I were finally reunited in the Netherlands, we were living apart in multiple countries. We were already using Skype, which was then in its infancy and the quality was questionable. The fact that my computer was so old that trying to use Word and Internet Explorer at the same time made it shut down wasn’t helping either.
But technology for couples such as us is growing in leaps and bounds. With Skype, it was already possible for us to see each other. But the choices couples have nowadays are even more exciting. Things that were not possible just years ago have become reality. Couples now can touch each other even if they live on different continents. In this list, I’d like to suggest a few such inventions that can enhance the health of a long-distance relationship. And while technology can’t totally close the physical gap between lovers, it can definitely make that distance feel smaller and the wait easier. If only they were available when I was in a long-distance relationship.
Avocado is an app that allows couples to share pics, music and personal updates, and even synchronizes with Google Calendar for planning trips. It’s basically like a private social media network just for couples. But if you want to ensure you never miss a message from your partner, there is always Ringly, a wearable technology that comes in the form of rings or bracelets and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. That way, you can receive customized mobile alerts through vibration and color-coded lights. Without is a fun little app that counts the days you’ve been apart from your partner. Designed by a fellow long-distance couple, it also allows you to stay connected via photos and messages. If doing this seems too depressing, try a different app called Dreamdays, which instead allows you to count down the days until you’ll be seeing each other next. It also makes it simple for the both of you to remember important dates like birthdays, anniversaries and visits.
Lovers can now feel their partner’s touch without being in the same room as them. Flex-N-Feel gloves allow couples to hold hands even if they’re not in the same country. One glove is called Flex and it interprets the way the hand bends. It then sends the signals to the other glove, which is called Feel and allows the other partner to experience their partner’s touch that way (and by touch, we don’t mean only handing hands). Unfortunately, only a prototype has been made so far. But until they become purchase-able, there is a bracelet called HEY (pictured above). Designed by two Dutch inventors, this gadget mimics human squeezes and sends signals to the other person’s wearable. For example, when one partner lightly caresses the bracelet, the other will feel it.
Kiiroo Onyx+Pearl is a pair of sex toys that allows couples to pleasure each other from a distance in real time. There is a version for her and for him, and they connect via Bluetooth. When both partners use the toys at the same time, the devices synchronize for a more believable experience. If you’re just not there yet, you can always use a fun little app called Couple, which allows you to share photos, music, pre-recorded messages and drawings, but also kiss; when both partners press their thumbs to the screen, their phones vibrate. The hope is that one day you will be able to feel your partner’s kiss from a distance, which is why products like Kissenger, a device that has very noticeable silicone lips and allows partners to transfer and feel physical kisses, are in development.
Nighttime is often the worst for couples in long-distance relationships. While they can keep busy with work or studying during the day, at night, the empty bed reminds them of their missing partner. Luckily, there is a solution. While nothing can compare to a warm sleeping body next to yours, Pillow Talk can at least help you feel less alone (and less scared of the dark). Pillow Talk consists of a cushion with an interactive panel and a bracelet the partners can wear around their wrists. The bracelet picks up the wearer’s pulse and sends their heartbeat to their partner’s pillow, allowing the recipient to hear it as if they were lying on their S.O.’s chest.
Olga Mecking lives in the Netherlands and writes about different topics, including parenting, travel, food and health.