Annie Brookstone

“We are embracing the enormous possibilities of the digital age.”

Quality sex toys have to offer more than solid technology on the inside. And more than nice design on the outside. As Annie Brookstone of IMTOY puts it, you only have a quality product when both of these elements are combined. The company’s new Zoo collection is an example of such a combination, and it is also a perfect representation of the IMTOY slogan: “Engineered for Ecstasy”. In our interview, Annie tells us which elements the team focused on during development, and how these toys are different from the competition.


 

IMTOY is dedicated to creating intelligent sex toys and sexual health products. Please, give us a short introduction to your company. How would you describe your philosophy?
Annie Brookstone: IMTOY is a leading manufacturer of adult pleasure and sexual health products whose philosophy is entrenched in innovation. It’s the cornerstone of our business, and this is important because of the rapid pace at which industry trends change – not to mention the speed at which technology improves. We rely on extensive research and development processes to position us at the cutting edge of the industry, keeping our finger on the pulse of ever-evolving consumer needs.

The latest collection from IMTOY is called “Zoo”. What sets this collection of toys apart from the competition?
In a word, sophistication. Everything about the ZOO Collection is sophisticated: its beautiful feminine packaging, the quality of the materials used, its luxurious look and feel, and – of course – the technology utilised. Our tagline also captures this very smartly: Engineered for Ecstasy.

All ZOO Collection products can be synched with a customised smart mobile app that is compatible with both Android and Apple devices. The app allows users to control vibration intensity settings, select vibration modes, create custom vibration patterns, download audio and video content to use during play and to operate both kinetic and audio vibration responses for the device.
This functionality undoubtedly sets IMTOY apart from its competitors. We are embracing the enormous possibilities of the digital age and are embracing the notion that even something as entrenched in our very nature as sensuality and pleasure can be enhanced by new technologies.

How would you describe the target audience for your products?
The IMTOY user is self-aware, empowered, confident, bisexual or straight, tech savvy and aged between 25 and 55 years old. I believe our users also have a strong appreciation of form and function; they’re not looking for superfluous gimmicks, they want modern simplicity where all their needs are met by beautifully streamlined and thoughtfully crafted products – and that goes all the way from phones to sex toys.

Zoo Competition

All toys in the Zoo collection can be controlled via the IMTOY app.

IMTOY supports the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving endangered species in southern Africa. Why did the company decide to support this NGO and how exactly are you helping them?
This is an important campaign that is dear to IMTOY as well as one that we are immensely proud of. IMTOY used the animal world as inspiration for the specific toys within the Zoo Collection, playing on the notion that sexual needs and desires are synonymous with all species of the animal kingdom, as well as inviting users to unleash their inner animal. We identified an opportunity to use this playful and innocent theme to highlight a much more serious matter, namely the increase in the illicit trade of wildlife.

We researched a number of organisations with which to collaborate, and being a “sex toy manufacturer” made this a challenging task. It was important for us to align with an organisation that not only did exceptional work for animal conservation and protection, but also accepted our industry as much as we respected and understood the sensitivities around their brand and identity.
Needless to say, we found this understanding with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), an entity doing amazing things to protect and conserve endangered species. IMTOY makes regular donations to the EWT as part of our commitment to the preservation of wildlife.

One of the cornerstones of all IMTOY products is their controllability via app. Does every product have an individual programme or could I control all my toys using the same app?
Adopting the ‘less is more’ approach, we have one app that controls any device in the ZOO Collection. This saves users from having to download several apps as they build their collection of ZOO products.

IMTOY focuses on sex tech toys with app control. Does that mean that you are as much a software company as you are a sex toy producer? How does the software change your approach towards the development process?
I wouldn’t expressly say that we are a tech company – perhaps a niche tech business at most. While technology is certainly a fundamental pillar of our business, the considerations of sensuality, health and wellness are equally important. One of the first questions we ask ourselves is, ‘What sexual health or wellness benefit needs to be provided to the industry?’ Subsequently, we ask, ‘What technology can we employ to deliver this?’

Do the apps also present you with new challenges that traditional sex toy manufacturers aren’t facing?
Absolutely. You only need to look as far as the recent class action brought against a fellow industry manufacturer. Technology is a powerful tool that may be used in a constructive or destructive and invasive manner. Privacy and data security are always a primary consideration on the tech side of the business.

Other challenges posed by technology are the cost of implementation and how it affects the retail price. Having the technology is one goal but producing it at an attainable and sustainable price is the real challenge.

“Having the technology is one goal but producing it at an attainable and sustainable price is the real challenge.”

At the end of the day, how much additional value does controlling a toy via app really offer, or is it just a gimmick for most users?
This functionality opens up a new experience for couples’ and solo play. There’s something magical about the heightened anticipation you can create for your partner by creating a custom vibration pattern that means he/she has no clue what level of intensity is next. Of course, these novel features aren’t essential – the toy needs to provide pleasure even when your smartphone is not within reach – but they can go a long way to enhancing the sensuality and allowing the user to take charge of their bliss.

Besides the technology, what must a modern sex toy offer in order to win over the consumers?
There are practical boxes every modern sex toy should check. These include: Good battery life, very good standby battery life and international device connectivity as well as offering something different, being more than just another sex toy. Consumers are tired of the same toys in different colours.

As sex has been taking out of the realms of the hush-hush and the taboo, sex toys have become more than just that ‘dirty little secret’ stashed away in the back of a wardrobe somewhere. The same aesthetic and stylistic discretion that we apply to choosing any other product for use in our daily lives comes into play when choosing sex toys. They need to deliver the pleasure they promise; they need to be beautifully packaged and as pleasing on the eye as they are, well, elsewhere; and there needs to be a certain holistic understanding of the consumer – sure, you want mind-blowing orgasms, but with that needs to come body-safe materials, products that are easy to clean and care for and a fuss-free user experience. IMTOY understands that your experience of a toy is about more than just those few minutes behind closed doors and that’s what consumers want.

Where are your toys available in Europe? Are you working with distributors here?
They are currently being distributed by EroPartner and in the process of being listed with Amazon.

What are the plans for the future of IMTOY? Can you grant us a peek at some new products you have in the making?
Let’s just say that we are bringing a new meaning to the traditional understanding of “Forbidden Fruit”…

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