Robert Doornbos in surroundings F1 fans remember him for. Image:

Former F1 racer Robert Doornbos is in the adult toy industry. And if you’re laughing away, that’s exactly the attitude guest poster Dory Brown reckons is keeping Formula One in the stone age.

Have you heard about Robert Doornbos’ new career move? There’s been a recent flurry about it, as the conservative F1 world reels in shock. Doornbos taken his background in cutting-edge technology, composite materials engineering, and excellent design, and entered a recession-proof industry. Allow me to introduce Kiiroo, the Dutch intimate communication firm Doornbos co-founded.

Despite what you might think at first glance, this is very relevant to Doornbos’ previous career. F1 team members are staring down the barrel of the longest season in history, with twenty-one proposed race weekends. Some of those are back-to-back fly-away races that will keep them away from home for almost a month in countries such as Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Many of those people are in long-term relationships, and the ones who aren’t are often in the initial stages of dating someone – a crucial time that’s usually spent together canoodling. While I can’t find any reliable data – no relationship experts, it seems, are too concerned with motorsport marriages – anecdotes from friends who work at teams would suggest a fairly high divorce rate in the motorsport community. Even those who aren’t married report a fairly short relationship time frame. It’s just not possible to maintain a relationship to any degree of satisfaction when you’re constantly apart.

Until now. Kiiroo is the industry leader in teledildonics.

Yes, ‘teledildonics’ is a word. Tele is from the Greek for ‘far off’. The dildonics part is a portmanteau word derived from a combination of ‘dildo’ and ‘electronics’. The word dildo was first used in print by Thomas Nashe in The Choice of Valentines (guess who was probably single the year he wrote that?), but seems to have been in common use before that. Although its precise etymology is unclear, one theory is that it is a bastardisation of the Italian word ‘diletto‘ meaning ‘delight’. ‘Electronics’ is obviously derived from ‘electron’, which was coined by George J. Stoney, an Irish physicist.

But back to the teledildonics. Toon Timmermans, Doornbos’ co-founder, first got the idea while watching ‘Demolition Man’ (remember that film from the early nineties, starring Sandra Bullock and Silvester Stallone? He was cryo-frozen and thawed after the AIDS epidemic made traditional coitus a taboo). I must admit, I was inspired to make something similar to Timmermans’ idea after watching that movie, but I was nine and lacked the engineering skills. When my mother found my prototype drawings, she banned me from watching movies for a full year; my experiment in dildo design is the reason I missed ‘Clueless’, but that’s story for another day.

The teledildonic system is deceptively user-friendly. I suppose this is the benefit of being Dutch, and surrounded by good design. The devices are networked via your laptop, which makes it ideal as an add-on to Skype conversations. Using capacitive touch technology – similar to what your phone’s screen uses to sense your finger – the dildo and sleeve, developed in conjunction with Fleshlight, translate touch and muscle movement to your partner on the other side of the world.

And yet the F1 community think Doornbos’ career switch is scandalous. In my offline job as a sex educator – of teens and university students – I see a lot of this rather prudish approach to sex.

Maybe it’s a throw-back to our Protestant moral heritage, something that I obviously missed, being Jewish and raised with the belief that marital sex was a mitzvah (something God has commanded us to do that either brings, or is in itself, a blessing). Maybe it’s that F1 is a little bit old-fashioned about sex and gender roles. Look at the number of female drivers and team bosses if you need any evidence of that.

But the industry does need Doornbos’ new field of expertise. At $360 for a pair of devices, this is not technology to share with a fling or a one-night stand; this is a relationship investment for long-term, committed couples.

Who knows, Kiiroo may be the saving grace of race team personnel across the industry as our competition seasons get ever longer.