“I do believe that PULSE was and is a game changer.”
British sex toy brand Hot Octopuss has been busy these past months, and now they present the first results of their hard work: PULSE III Solo and PULSE III Duo are available as of now, with six more new products scheduled for launch next year. These innovations will also include the Queen Bee, a product geared towards the female clientele. EAN spoke with Adam Lewis about the new products and the development process behind PULSE, the world’s first ‘guybrator’.
In 2013, you launched the world’s first ‘guybrator’, PULSE. Some people called this product a game changer. Do you agree?
Adam Lewis: Blush! Well objectively speaking, I do believe that PULSE was and is a game changer and that this can be illustrated into ways:
Firstly, not only did the product bring a new technology to the market that had never been seen before, namely our patented PulsePlate technology, but it was one of the first male products that delivered stimulation through technology rather than trying to replicate human interaction. So technologically speaking, I believe that PULSE has been a game changer.
Secondly, I believe that the significant mainstream press that PULSE has received has gone some way towards helping to change perceptions around male masturbation and how male toys should look and function. In the past, the phallic nature of male products and the fact that, unlike many female toys, the majority of these attempt to replicate human interaction, has led to a widespread perception that if a man uses these devices it is because he is unable to find a partner. Much of the mainstream press that PULSE received focused on the toys aesthetics and the fact that it did not try to replicate human interaction and I believe that this has contributed towards encouraging people to reconsider their perceptions and in turn has helped male toys to become a little more acceptable.
Looking back now, three years after launch, what were the biggest challenges you faced in the early days?
Where to start? I would say that the biggest challenge by far was actually inventing and developing the product. Believe it or not, bringing the product to market was actually comparatively easy. Designing the look and ergonomics of the toy was extremely difficult and then getting all of the moving parts to work correctly and quietly was also a very big challenge. For example, just to design the mechanism so that it ran smoothly and didn’t sound like a lawnmower took us around 18 months! There were many times where I feared that we would never be able to complete the product.
Getting the product manufactured was also a huge challenge. Everything about the product is bespoke, which meant that we couldn’t use a single manufacturer to make it and had to find specialists suppliers to make certain components and then get them to work together. Anyone who knows anything about manufacturing in China will tell you that factories don’t like working together, so getting them to collaborate instead of constantly blaming each other was a challenge that I had not predicted.
Now, you are introducing the third generation of this product line in the form of PULSE III Solo and PULSE III Duo. What’s new about this new generation? What can these two products do that their predecessors couldn’t?
As you have probably gathered by now, these products are extremely difficult to manufacture and as we move through each production run we learn a little more about how the products can be improved.
The PULSE III series has progressed from the old school Nokia type charging mechanism to cutting-edge magnetic charging. They feature a Turbo Mode, which allows the user to jump to maximum power with the click of a button (extra power just when they need it) and we have also improved the secondary motor on the DUO, so that the woman can experience even greater power.
We have also included a speed sensor which drives extra power to the PulsePlate to compensate for any pressure exerted onto it and lastly, the new versions are now near silent (at last!). As you can see, the products are getting better and better and we are still discovering ways in which we can make improvements, so expect more optimised versions to come.
“The products are getting better and better and we are still discovering ways in which we can make improvements, so expect more optimised versions to come.”
You emphasise that the combination of science and technology in your products is one of the main reasons for the special sexual experience they provide. Would you mind telling us more about this combination?
For us it has been very much about looking outside of the sex toy industry at best practice being implemented by other sectors. So for example, we might look at the bedding/mattress industry to see what materials they are developing and using or perhaps the construction industry to see what the latest vibration technology currently being used is.
There are many sectors out there that are very well funded with a large R&D focus. It is our aim to try and harness these competencies and apply them to our own products.
Other than identifying suitable technologies, one for the key challenges here is how to take these technologies, redesign and adapt them not just to fit our purpose but also our budget. Whilst a $10 component might not be a lot in the manufacturing of a car, it is hugely expensive component when you try and apply it to a sex toy.
Critics might argue that it’s not exactly innovative to launch optimised versions of existing products. What do you say to that?
I would have to agree with them. I think the way you phrase it is spot on; we are optimising the product rather than innovating. When you have a successful product, launching optimised versions is something most manufacturers will struggle to avoid. Firstly, manufacturers learn so much from ongoing production and therefore typically want to keep improving their products for their customers. The second reason is simply a commercial one. Everyone wants NEW.
However great a product is, sooner or later it is no longer new and therefore doesn’t get talked about as much. This is true for industry buyers (how many times have we heard the question ‘what’s new?’) but also, and for us perhaps even more importantly, for the mainstream press. Once the press has written about your product and all the reviewers have reviewed it product, then the publicity and exposure for that product simply begins to wane. Therefore, in order to keep the product in the headlines you have to find ways of keeping it fresh…what better way to do this but by creating optimised versions?
Oh, and to all you critics out there, don’t get too down about this as we have plenty of true (non-optimised) innovations coming your way soon!
When will the PULSE III collection be available in Europe and where will retailers be able to get it?
I am delighted to say that the products are now available directly from us (email@example.com) or through our partners Orion and Eropartner.
You have also announced that there will be three more new products next year. When will they hit the shelves?
Well, actually we hope to have five, maybe even six new products available next year (we have been busy!). We are hoping that the first three will ship by CNY with the next two being available around early summer. The last product is another one of our extremely complicated never-been-done-before products, so although we are hoping for this to be ready next year, the truth is that we just don’t know when it will be completed.
Two of these new products are also ‘guybrators’ whose names you’ve already given away: Pocket PULSE and Pocket PULSE Remote. Can you give us some more information about these products?
Yes, these will be our entry level (no pun intended) Guybrators one of which will be remote control operated. Rather than utilising our patented and very expensive PulsePlate technology, we have applied a different technological approach to make these toys oscillate. The result being that we have been able to create smaller products at a lower price point. These toys function really well and I believe they are going to fly off the shelves at their perspective price points, which will be a good 30% cheaper than our current PULSE III range.
The patented PulsePlate technology has also been used in a product called the Queen Bee that is geared towards women. Would you mind telling us more about the design, functionality, etc. of this product?
To start with, I just want to say how excited we all are about the Queen Bee. Not only does it function differently to any other female toy on the market, it will also look very different to anything that has been seen before- as you can tell, we are very proud.
The idea for the Queen Bee came from woman feeling the PulsePlate on our male sex-toy PULSE and stating they had penis envy and that they would love to see a product that delivered this kind of stimulation for woman…so we went away and looked at how we could integrate a PulsePlate into a woman’s toy -the result being the Queen Bee.
The idea behind the Queen Bee was for us to develop a clitoral stimulator that could compete in terms of power with the wands yet be battery powered. The unique properties of the PulsePlate have allowed us to create a product where the oscillations have a much deeper resonance than those you would typically find in a wand. The vibration range is also much wider than most wands meaning that the product can go from very gentle all the way to blow-your-brains-out. It will be 100% waterproof, offer magnetic charging as well as all the other features expected from a premium female toy.
Was it difficult to use this technology in a female-oriented product? Is the experience similar to the male-oriented PULSE products?
For once, I can gladly say no, it wasn’t too difficult. Many of the technical challenges, in terms of the mechanism and functionality, were overcome during the development of PULSE (thank goodness as I couldn’t have gone through that pain again).
The challenges were more around how to optimally apply the technology to a female toy as for obvious reasons the requirements were going to be very different.
This meant that a lot of time was spent on the form and understanding the ways the product could be used as opposed to the more technical challenges we faced when developing the technology in the first place for PULSE.
Products for men, products for couples, and now also a product for women. Which audience will be the main priority for Hot Octopuss going forward? And are there still new ways to use your PulsePlate technology? How many more products based on this technology would be conceivable?
To be honest, I couldn’t tell you with any certainty which audience our priority will be going forward. I guess we will just have to see where our inspiration takes us next.
In terms of PulsePlate technology, there are quite a few avenues we can still explore both for male and female products. Many people have suggested developing an insertable toy using this technology, so this is something we might look into next.
eroFame is in the rearview mirror and the year is nearing its end. What is your verdict on 2016 as far as the developments in the adult market are concerned?
I’ll be honest hear and say that this is a difficult question for me to answer this year. My head has been focused almost exclusively on product design/development and I really haven’t taken much stock to what else has been going on in the industry. My feeling however is that it has been another good year for the industry and that 2017 looks like it is going to be even better!