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Teledildonics, sex tech, et al. – useless gadgets or future trend?

Houses, cars, sex toys: The internet of things keeps growing as more and more objects can communicate with one another and the person using them. This trend has long since reached the adult industry, and it continues to gain momentum. But do we really need masturbators that can be connected via the internet or cock rings that measure the thrust speed or vibrators that can “feel” the emotional state of the user? Put differently: Is this the future of sex toys? Do these products offer real value or are they just made because they can be made?

matze_pc_webMatthias Poehl

A clever idea alone does not make a good product. Nor does modern technology. That may sound harsh, but I feel it reflects the reality of the market pretty accurately. Many product ideas that seem innovative at first glance have turned out to be duds because they lacked practical functionality or were held back by other factors – oftentimes, the price. And you can find many examples of such failures in the adult market. Lots of products have quickly been dismissed because people felt they were all bells and whistles, useless gadgets with little to no added value.

There’s nothing worse than a product promising sexual satisfaction that can’t keep this promise because there is too much focus on other things. I am not saying this is true for the products of the new sex tech revolution – well, not all of them -, but it often seems that modern technology is shoehorned into the design of a sex toys just because it’s possible, and as a result, the actual purpose of the vibrator, etc. is neglected. The idea of partner A sitting in Paris and controlling the vibrator of partner B halfway around the planet with his masturbator – yes, that sounds really cutting-edge, fun, and it probably also tickles the imagination of many couples in long-term relationships.The idea of a cock ring measuring the speed of sex – well, that sounds unusual (how long before someone adds a calorie metre to one of these things?), but it might be fun. The idea of controlling sex toys with your smartphone via app – yes, that’s probably modern and up-to-date and all.

But, if I may ask: What about the functionality and usability and all the other factors that traditionally make a great, appealing sex toy? If these elements are pushed to the sidelines of the development process because the focus is on other things, namely modern technologies – or if products are only developed because there is this new technology that you could theoretically put in a sex toy – how can these products ever reach the same level of success and acceptance as products that focus on actually being sex toys? We all know that there is an audience for pretty much any product, small as it may be. So what’s in the cards for sex tech products? It is possible that they win over a small fan base while the rest don’t really care because they feel it’s just a bunch of gimmicky gadgets. In the worst case, the idea and the technology seem great at first glance, but the user experience ends up being disappointing. However, seeing as VR is looking to be the next big thing, it’s also a very real possibility that interactive toys become a big hit, taking the experience of consuming pornographic content to a new level. Of course, the porn factor will appeal mostly to men. But then again, the combination of porn and technology seemed to be a male thing to begin with. That won’t really get a lot of women on board. Who knows, maybe 2016 will really be the year of the male sex toy …