On January 16th of this year BaDoink brought you the guide as we saw it to SexTech in 2015.
‘Lost Your MOJO?‘ we asked you as we eased you gently into the wide, burgeoning world of SexTech and all its modernized and pleasurable glory. We deemed it ‘the SexTech revolution’ and – just under eight months down the line since we announced it – our expectations have not only been met; but utterly surpassed. The best part of all of this? It’s merely the beginning.
As luck would have it, BaDoink are one of the organizations at the forefront of this changing sexual world. The unveiling and release of BaDoink VR and its enabling Free VR Goggles not only marked a watershed moment in the developing history of SexTech, but captured the imagination of the world’s media.
But who else has provided the thrills, chills and spills of what is already SexTech’s greatest year? As you will see, SexTech is a whole lot more than providing sexual pleasure – although that’s one of its biggest charms – and is able to focus on education, humor and providing an outlet for a world infused by awe-inspiring technology that is changing the way we think, speak and show intimacy.
Another sign that SexTech is coming on strong in a big way? It’s something of an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ situation, but the bad news that patent trolls are trying to undercut the work of some of the industry’s finest ambassadors is a roundabout – and hideously unnecessary – way of showing that SexTech is very much in a boom period. After all, vultures always look for the meatiest bodies.
BaDoink hosted its first Future Of SexTech panel discussion in Sitges, Spain, back in March. With the keen business acumen on display via the panel it was a sign that things were forging ahead. On schedule? Well, there isn’t really a schedule to speak of, we don’t particularly need one.
As we have said on countless occassions: “Viva SexTech!” There’s a lot more viva left for this vibe. So take BaDoink’s hand as we take you on a trip through SexTech’s recent past, exciting present and a future loaded with potential with the vast array of versatile and hungry companies, individuals and products that have made 2015 SexTech’s magnum opus thus far.
NAMES, GAINS AND THE BREAKING OF CHAINS
The business and personality side of SexTech has seen great developments in 2015. We’re not going to sit here and crow like some celebrity shitshow, but a sector that is already on the back foot from lazy stereotyping and poor public perception needs strong faces and voices in order to make any progress at all.
One of the biggest names – and loudest voices – is Cindy Gallop. The founder of MakeLoveNotPorn is one of the most vocal proponents of SexTech and one of the biggest scourges of the stuffed shirts that reside in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
“I am impressed by anyone founding and battling to grow a SexTech venture in 2015,” said Cindy when speaking with BaDoink again recently. “Every obstacle every entrepreneur faces starting a business – have a sextech startup, triple them. The three most important qualities for any startup founder are persistence, resilience and the ability to manage your own mind. Working in sextech, you need huge amounts of all three. These are the founders to bet on.”
The problems faced by SexTech start ups was a common – and unfortunate – thread throughout the course of our features, interviews and spotlights. Jennifer McEwen – co-founder of MiKandi – put it plainly when she spoke to us in January: “We made a mistake. We made a product for adults.”
But even with mainstream and Silicon Valley playing games – or not playing, as the case may be – there are still enough murmurs and ripples to cause a wave. Multimedia site The Drum made a huge dive into the pool with The Big Turn On. The SexTech documentary rooted out some of the biggest names in the sector – including our great pals at Kiiroo – as a certifiable show of strength for a burgeoning industry.
The Drum by all accounts has done SexTech justice, and it has left the door open for others to join them by walking right through.
Even before that – back in February – LELO’s assault upon the mainstream cinema market showed that there is no lack of ambition in SexTech either. Beyond The Wave looked to concentrate on the emotional and physical balance of love in a distorted world, all while the rest of the world was gearing up for the rough bullshit of 50 Shades Of Grey.
SexTech is all about innovation. That’s its modus operandi; the primary reason it exists. If it doesn’t present at least SOME form of innovative idea then what’s the point. It loses its tech appeal. Sex sells alright, but taking the tech from SexTech would be ridiculous.
So even in the face of a sector that thrives and prides itself upon pushing boundaries, there are still new modes and methods to explore. We always need to push the envelope, but how about pushing YOUR envelope, huh? N.B. You won’t find many recorded instances of somebody making an envelope a sexual euphemism, so bask in that one.
Way, way, waaaay back in January – doesn’t time fly? – we introduced you to Comingle and their revolutionary Mod. The ‘Raspberry Pi of sex’ is as modern as you can possibly get, appealing to coders, hackers, sexers and the curious.
The user can create their own patterns as influenced by millions of variables as well as bring sensors and controllers into the mix. It’s a toy, a pet, a pleasure device, even a source of coding hijinks for those in the deeper channels.
Comingle viewed – and still do, of course – SexTech as a challenge. They see the combination of SexTech and customizable options as “something that’s being dealt with enough because people in the main are shy about these things. But we’re not shy with people and we’re ready to take this challenge on.”
Challenge they did. Comingle made waves and – even with a looming legal battle – look set to be one of the big players in the sector.
FriXion are also making efforts to bridge gaps. Not just between sex and tech but between people too. It’s effectively a social sex network wherein participants can touch, be touched, kiss hold hands and even engage in full penetrative sex regardless of whether your partner is across the room or the other side of the world.
It’s a boon for a great number of people. Those in long-distance relationships, people who engage in casual encounters online and sex workers and cam models who want to offer their clients even more bang for their buck.
When speaking to BaDoink, FriXion’s founder spoke about how their devices could be used for anonymous encounters in settings similar to Omegle and Chat Roulette, where you can only reveal yourselves if you decide to put your webcams on. Are we perhaps ‘post-looks’? Or at least heading that way? It’s an intriguing notion.
As well as being the duo responsible for a record-breaking women-led crowd funding campaign, Dame have set tongues wagging with their hands-free, clitoral stimulation device: Eva.
Eva provides women with the clitoral stimulation they want and need during sex. Eva’s unique flexible wings keep the vibrator in place by comfortably tucking under the labia majora. Eva remains unobtrusive throughout penetrative sex. It’s bold, fresh, unique… and might just change the way we view, design, create and use SexTech. Exciting, isn’t it?
We also got a first look at Klittrajet recently, the device that’s going to let you get dirty while you get clean.
Albeit a technique as old as time itself, hydro-stimulation looks to be making a big comeback. Warm your jets indeed!
You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to know that sex is – or certainly can and should be – a lot of fun. But what is sex without the necessary education? We may read a seemingly infinite amount of horror stories of people’s lives marred by poor choices via a lack of education and knowledge. And let’s face it, the world has endured enough unwanted pregnancies and struggles with diseases because of this.
Is it SexTech’s moral duty to take up the mantle? No. We should be able to trust and rely upon educators – academic, familial and religious – to do that, but these groups are not stepping up… and they may never do so.
The true convergence of sex and technology has thus taken it upon themselves to do just that. The results thus far are nothing short of spectacular.
Let’s look at Happy Playtime: the app that pledges to take the stigma of female masturbation – embedded by hundreds, if not thousands, of years of twisted cultural oppression – and draw the sting away from it; making it fun, relatable and comparatively easy to talk about.
Sex Siopa also staked their claim as a SexTech company that prides itself on granting its customers the benefit of their wisdom. The Irish-based retailer – founded and maintained by Seattle-head Shawna Scott – found much-deserved mainstream recognition in May when it collected the award for Best Online Retailer For The Irish Market at the inaugral Blacknight SME Awards.
Where Happy Playtime shows you the psychological and cultural aspects of masturbation, Sex Siopa is industrial in both its subject matter and approach.
One of their primary concerns is the abundance of harmful and poisonous industrial chemicals involved in the production of sex toys; particularly Phthalates, which is a chemical used in the process of plastic softening. Sex Siopa – armed with the requisite knowledge – want to navigate the unnecessarily fraught world of sex toy purchase and use to give you the best options of ethically sourced and produced aids. If that isn’t an admirable cause then we’re hard pressed to tell you what is.
Remarkably, SexTech isn’t just confined to humans – and we don’t just mean our April Fool’s Prank either – as our chat with the green-fingered boffins behind the Plant Sex Consultancy (PSX) attested to.
PSX combined philosophy, the natural world and the as yet unexplored crossover potential between human and plant sexuality; human sex aids being used to stimulate plants who – by design or by circumstance – find themselves endangered or in need of literal and technical artificial stimulation.
FREEWHEELIN’ AND FREEBALLIN’
In our interview with Cindy Gallop – owner of MakeLoveNotPorn and one of the chief proponents of the Real World Sex Revolution – she stressed the importance humor, normality and allowing ‘mistakes’ to occur during sex and intimacy. That’s the idea. It’s not the sterilized and hyper-realistic (i.e. not realistic at all) world of mainstream porn, it’s… real life. Honestly, it couldn’t be much more simple.
So it’s no surprise that 2015 has seen a number of innovations in SexTech that don’t get overly serious and allow us to laugh at ourselves, sex, the industry and life itself.
Take Bloxers for example. This neat little innovation is on a mission to ease the embarrassment and potential social suicide of The Dreaded Public Boner.
Pornhub entered the topsy-turvy world of SexTech themselves by introducing us to the Twerking Butt. This crazy piece of equipment – a pinch at $999! – is just like the real thing. It vibrates, twerks, heats up… erm wait… hang on a second…
Sticking with SexTech that looks like body parts, the Vajankle caused something of a stir when it hit shelves in February. The casting of a foot and ankle with – you guessed it – a vagina as its crowning glory may have been the subject of mockery in some quarters but even as a product that leans more toward the humorous side of matters, it shows that SexTech is versatile and willing to accommodate all comers… pun intended!
This combination of not-taking-yourself-too-seriously but attempting to achieve maximum pleasure was kicked up a notch with the release of two awesome pieces of kit: the Sex Selfie Stick and the SexTech-while-you-swim Gnarly Rider.
The former is essentially ‘FaceTime for your vagina’, with manufacturers Svakom promising users endoscopic orgasms while the latter brought biological science into the frame. It surmised that since more endorphins are released from the brain when the body is immersed and floating in water, it stands to reason that any concurrent sexual experience would be immediately heightened. Some say a good orgasm will make you feel as if you are floating… now you can do it literally.
H-APP-ENINGS AND THE BEST OF THE REST
Even SexTech – in fact, ESPECIALLY SexTech – cannot be categorized so nearly at times and a number of the awesome companies, products and projects we’ve covered so far in 2015 might not fall into their own specific niches, but there’s always something for everyone.
The fully-customizable magazine and video-on-demand (VOD) service is easy-to-use, affordable and comes replete with immense variety to suit a wide array of niches, nooks and crannies. It cuts through the swathes of pornographic material sprawled on the mattress that is the internet and wraps it up before placing it on your virtual doorstep tied with a lovely pink bow. Now *this* is what such technology was made for!
SexTech also took the leap outside of reality this year and found its way into the realms and folds of deep space and video games, courtesy of sex-based sci fi RPG Future Love Space Machine.
This is a game that lets you explore black holes while your thrusters are on warp-speed and celebrates not just the diversity of life on Earth but the potential for sexual adventures across the universe. Human-on-human sex is just soooo passé these days, dahling. Interplanetary sex is what it’s about now!
Back on Earth now (boooo!) and SexTech apps are showing their full potential in 2015.
We had our own close encounter with Lori Cheek of Cheekd; the app that is geared toward eliminating the boring awkwardness that permeates other dating apps like Tinder and their highly-processed ilk.
Cheekd relies on the instincts of the heart and mind when it comes to those first flourishes of attraction. Because why SHOULD you be spending countless days and hours walking in circles around each other with unsatisfying small talk when one of you can simply make a suggestion for a date and the interaction can be thrashed out there?
Cut to the chase and you could indeed be dancing… wait for it… Cheekd to Cheekd!
On a more serious note, we’ve all been made aware of the dangers that lie in lax security, sexual imagery and malevolent hackers with nothing better to do than to make people’s lives a misery. The rise of revenge porn and the recent hacks of Ashley Madison and Adult Friend Finder are proof positive that at times we are on a precipice of data breaches.
Disckreet allows for dual-consent and safety in the knowledge that your captured intimate moments are encrypted and safe. Because why SHOULD people fear the unknown, potential scorn and even worse when they simply want to express themselves sexually?
… and so while the future may seem unerringly positive, there is still plenty to consider. To wit, via Cindy Gallop:
“No year is a good year for Sextech where the following is still failing to happen:
– no VC funds publicly announcing that the Next Big Thing in tech is disrupting sex and that they want to invest in SexTech.
(The first VC fund that does will corner spectacular dealflow.)
– no prominent angel investors publicly announcing that the Next Big Thing in tech is disrupting sex and that they want to invest in SexTech.
(All those big Silicon Valley contrarian investors who claim not to give a fuck what anyone thinks? You’d be amazed quite how many fucks are given when it comes to SexTech.)
– no mainstream massmarket payment processors announcing they will process payments for honest legal decent SexTech, and no banks announcing they will bank honest legal decent SexTech.
(MakeLoveNotPorn has a zero chargeback record; we operate legally, transparently, honestly and ethically, and we still can’t find mainstream payment and banking partners.)
– no incubators/accelerators/entrepreneur programs are encouraging entrepreneurs to start SexTech businesses.
(Silicon Valley welcomes innovation and disruption in every other area of our lives and work except this one – the one that badly needs it.)”
It’s much a case of the same old problems. The one we have discussed – albeit on a different level – when we talk about the Pornocaplypse.
It’s what we mean when we cover the disastrous attitudes towards sex workers by the likes of VISA, Mastercard and authorities who are wretchedly drunk on their own power.
For all of the ingenious invention, application, marketing, consumer interest and take up and ambition, there is still a great deal of work to be done. The difference here though is that these people and companies are dead set on making the differences that NEED to be made.
“It’s not about what any of us foresee. It’s about what each one of us makes happen. When you have a truly world changing startup, you have to change the world to fit it, not the other way round,” says Cindy.
“I’m not waiting for things to change for SexTech; I’m making them change. The next step is the one we all take together. The companies and individuals primed to lead the way are the ones who follow my constant directive to the adult and SexTech industry – ‘Take yourself out of the shadows’.
“People unconsciously internalize society’s disapproval of what they’re doing in SexTech without even realizing it, and that impacts their ability to do business effectively and to do the kind of business they want. Go loud and proud on SexTech. The future is competitive collaboration – all of us in SexTech collaborating and working together to change the ridiculous hypocrisy, puritanism and ‘fear of what other people will think’ for every one of us, on the premise of ‘a rising tide floats all boats’.
“To paraphrase Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed SexTech entrepreneurs can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
In terms of hardware – emphasis on hard! – our own series on ‘Future SexTech and – while we’re here, here’s the best of the rest when it comes to the products available on the market right now…
The Aurora Sex Toy Claims to Rejuvenate Your Vagina with a Laser
Lovely, the Smart Sex Toy; Because Intelligence is Sexy
PinkBox: Sex Toy Vending Machines Have Arrived in the US
Sex Toy Review: The LELO Siri 2 Is Here to Pleasure You
Sex Toy Review – Hot Octopuss Pulse II
Sex Toy Review: The Kiiroo Onyx and Pearl