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How a sex toy startup could revolutionize Atlanta's tech landscape

A programmable dildo built on open-source technology is days away from reaching a $50,000 crowdfunding goal


? For one Candler Park foursome, Valentine’s Day is poised to come right on time this year. (Probably a pun in there somewhere.) That’s because the founders behind the Atlanta-based startup Comingle are four days and about $5,000 away from reaching a crowdfunding goal that, once fulfilled, will allow them to begin production on their first run of a game-changing dildo.
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? It’s called the Mod and it’s a doozy. Imagine a vibrator that grinds to the beat of your favorite slow jam, or the beat of your lover’s heart, is capable of video-chat and has built-in remote-control compatibility and touch sensitivity. It damn near does everything but wash the dishes. Built on an open-source platform, it gives users the ability to customize functions by hacking away to their hearts’ delight.
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? Besides the cutting-edge design — which you should definitely dig deeper into on Comingle's Indiegogo page where all the perks for contributors are also highlighted — the fact that this is happening in Atlanta is pretty unique. In a local startup scene defined mostly by the mega-success of such consumer and service-oriented outfits as Scoutmob and MailChimp, Comingle sticks out like, well, kinda like a dildo.
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? Founded in 2014 by current Georgia Tech Ph.D students Andy Quitmeyer and Paul Clifton, and rounded out by Tech grad Craig Durkin and Georgia State University grad Melanie Satchno, Comingle’s modus operandi is totally DIY. They do all the research and development, manufacturing and marketing in-house. Meaning, they literally operate out of a modest Candler Park brick bungalow. In the basement is where they do the dirty work. During a recent tour of the place, they showed off huge vats of sticky silicon and early prototypes, including one of their first casts, molded from what must have been a pretty intimidating cucumber before they learned bigger isn't always better.
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? ??? While it's the science, rather than the size, that makes the Mod so special, the creators also see it as a way to build a sex-positive DIY community by turning tech play into the new foreplay. From the Indiegogo page:
? ?? Sex and DIY have always gone hand-in-hand. We want to maintain that relationship as technology begins to play a greater role in the bedroom. The open-source software and hardware movements have provided excellent examples of how to make great, accessible, and customizable programs and products that encourage exploration. By applying the principles and practices of open-source to sex tech, we can encourage hackers to explore sexuality and people interested in sexuality to explore technology. 
? ?? Though the $50,000 monetary goal is well within sight, they’re also using the Indiegogo campaign to gauge the demand for this kind of product. “That’s the nice thing about the crowdfunding,” says Durkin. “It lets us see whose actually interested in this. And then we can scale up our whole process to meet that demand.”
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? So, yeah, if you're still in the market for that killer V-Day gift maybe you should consider an investment in the future — of one Atlanta tech startup and your own personal get-down. This thing could bring new meaning to "making sparks fly" in the sack. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.).
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? The crowdfunding campaign for the Mod is scheduled to end this Sat., Feb. 14 at 11:59 p.m. Visit Comingle's Indiegogo page for more info or to donate.