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© Lewis Westbury 2024

Touch Pairing at Sex Tech Hack 2017


Touch pairing is an exploration of intimacy and closeness at a distance, from Sex Tech Hack 2017.

Closeness without contact

In 2017, I wanted to investigate intimacy. In particular, I wanted to explore the idea that perhaps you needn’t be in the same room as someone in order to feel their presence.

I developed an app that allows you to pair two Android devices, each with a screen. As you touch your screen, you leave a visible trace on both devices - they effectively share a screen. Similarly, as your partner touches theirs, their motion is communicated between both devices.

I’ve rustled up the slides from my presentation, which I present to you here… barely tweaked at all!

Tools and tips

Reflections from 2023

I worked in Java on Android, and I used the Android Nearby API. Perhaps I shouldn’t have. At the time it was a shocking mess of callbacks and handlers, which made it very difficult to keep state! Mind you, the developer experience for Android has improved significantly since then…

I was quite proud to have put the project together in the time available. It was an intense coding experience and, of course, it meant that I missed out on the social aspects of the hackathon - which would have been nice.

I guess I had a bit of a bee in my bonnet about completing the app and having something to show for it. I recall finishing the code in the small hours of the morning, and then going home to find a cardboard box and two phones to test it with (in the dark).

Overall, it was a fun hack and there’s nothing quite like working under pressure to learn new skills!