Nigel's notes

Random thoughts on the world of kink

Lights! Sound! Sensory deprivation

technology / April 21, 2017 /

Sensory deprivation is something quite a few people like playing with. It can be as simple as just some ear plugs, or ear defenders, and a blindfold or hood. But you can do much more than that too, of course.

Over the years, I’ve played with a few interesting gadgets that can enhance the experience, and I thought I’d round up a few of them here, in case other people fancy trying them out. I’m focusing here largely on high-tech solutions.

Please note: some things here come with health warnings; always read the instructions, and don’t ever use gear like this on someone without discussing it first. Not only might someone have a panic response to sensory deprivation, but there are medical issues too, like photo-sensitive epilepsy.

Sounding out
Ear defenders are lots of fun; you can pick them up from a DIY store, or you can use ear plugs under a hood. But depending on your hearing you may well find that they’re just not isolating enough. I can often hear someone moving around, and that can be sufficient to know if they’re at one side of the room or another.

TM Soft’s White Noise has a large library of sounds

So, noise is a useful alternative. White noise – the sort of static hiss you hear from a radio that’s not tuned to a station – can be very good at masking things. Use a decent pair of headphones, and the sub will be quite unaware of what else you’re doing.

There are quite a few apps around, but one of the ones I’ve found most useful is White Noise Lite from TM Soft. It’s available for both iPhone and Android. The paid version has some extra options, too, including running in the background. I’d regard that as essential if using it in a scene – you don’t want it to accidentally stop.

Mind out!
Amongst the sounds you can download are various wave programs; these are what’s known as ‘binaural beats’ and are thought to encourage specific types of brain waves:

  • Gamma: alertness and senstitive perception
  • Delta: deep sleep
  • Mu: physical rest, stillness, immobility
  • Theta: heavy relaxation

665’s goggles; photo © BoundPics

These, needless to say, can be an interesting accompaniment to a session, and something I’ll come back to in a moment.

Listening to noises is cool, but what about vision? You don’t have to work with just a blackout. One of the first things I tried was these ‘mind fuck’ goggles from 665 Leather. When they’re turned on, the coloured LEDs slowly cycle between different colours. So, all you can really see is just colours changing in front of your eyes.

Rise of the machines
There is a whole lot more that’s possible, with an AVS (Audio Visual Stimulation) or “Mind Machine.” These are, essentially, a dedicated computer that creates audio signals for a pair of headphones, and controls a set of glasses fitted with colour LEDs.

Rather than the slow cycle of the goggles I mentioned, they can create rapid pulsing patterns of colour and the result is a bit trippy. The ‘Rolls Royce’ of these machines is probably the PhotoSonix Nova Pro 100. It can create those binaural beats I talked about earlier, and the full colour glasses create an amazing effect.

There are, however, some downsides. First is the cost – you’re looking at $400 – and the second is the glasses. They work really, really well, but they’re not exactly ideal for a kink scene, as you’ll probably be able to see things around the edges, unless you have something else over the eyes. And they can be kind of hard to combine with other gear, like any pair of glasses.

AVS on a budget
Fortunately, I’ve found a solution, for perverts on a budget. First, fetch your app. This one is called Mindroid and as the name implies, it works on Android. You could, as the makers suggest in their video, balance the phone on your face, or use Google Cardboard.

You don’t have to use glasses with Mindroid, but it’s much better if you do

But neither of those is terribly sexy, in my view, or ideal for a sensory deprivation scene – though the app is certainly capable of creating the binaural beats, and even combining them with white noise or your own audio tracks.

Fortunately, it can also support external glasses. On their partner’s website, they have some similar to those for the Nova Pro – but those too will have the same drawbacks, for kink. What’s far more interesting is the ‘sleep mask.

This doesn’t have as many LEDs as the glasses, but as a simple mask, it’s much easier to combine with other gear. And, as you can see here, it fits extremely well over the front of a gas mask too.

With VAT and shipping, the mask cost $87; the pro-version of the app is £2.99.

And it’s a lot of fun. The short video clip below shows the mask on a gas mask, mounted on a glass head, so you can see the light effect (though it’s much more intense when you’re in the mask) and hear the audio.

If you’ve thought about a Mind Machine like the Nova Pro, but been put off by the price, this is an option well worth looking at. And it can be a hell of a lot of fun as part of a sensory deprivation session.

One tip, if you’re using apps like the ones I’ve mentioned here as part of a scene – put your device into airplane mode before you start using it to generate audio a. There’s nothing to quite break the moment when you’re zoning out on white noise like the notification sound of your mother calling, or a cruise on Recon.

Finally, as I mentioned before – don’t try this on someone without discussing it first, to make sure you’re aware of any medical issues.