Somewhere between Star Wars and iPhones and Skype, sex toys joined the geek squad. Although admittedly a little late to the party, it was only a matter of time before our most private desires got pulled into the technology spotlight. Now that we’re carrying mini computers in our pockets (read: smart phones) and are far beyond needing cords to connect to the internet, we’re after the same convenience and high-tech quality that we expect from our less taboo electronic devices. Is purchasing a vibrator all that different from seeking out our next laptop? Today’s tech-savvy manufacturers and consumers are eager for a whole new way to sexually connect.
The move towards tech started subtly enough. Rechargeable vibrators began to appear as a luxury addition to hipster brands like JimmyJane and Fun Factory, and now they’re fairly standard across the industry, regardless of price points. Next came Crave’s Duet vibe, a sleek, dual-pronged toy with a removable cap that revealed a USB plug, making charging via laptop port a game-changing reality. From there, sex toy engineers went on a spree of creation that would impress the intergalactic crew on Star Trek.
Teledildonics became a buzz word somewhere around 2013 and, if Mr. Spock concurs with our trend calculations, will continue to inspire the next decade of sensual products. A mash-up of telecommunications and mutual masturbation, teledildonics took phone sex into outer space – almost literally. When couples travel and need their Skype date fix, look no further than sex-tech pioneers Kiiroo. Instead of awkwardly balancing a cell phone or trying to get just the right angle on the laptop cam, long-distance lovers can please their partner with the push of a button – or the stroke of a vibrator. Their paired Onyx and Pearl toys – a motor-driven masturbator for him and a touch-sensitive vibrator for her – are enabled with haptic technology that allows each partner to feel sexual touch across continents. Couples connect using Bluetooth and a special platform that allows for a dirty conference call, complete with video, of course.
“This is something amazing for couples in a long distance relationship, who travel a lot for work, or are in the army,” says the Kiiroo team. “We offer couples a chance to be intimate anywhere and always. The devices are two-way, so both can send and receive signals to make the experience complete.” When she strokes or inserts the Pearl, her movements are mimicked by the Onyx’s stroking motor, and when he inserts himself into the Onyx, the Pearl responds with multiple vibration patterns, and it all happens in real time. If that isn’t kinky enough for you, this tech toy pair can be connected to Kiiroo’s porn library for solo or coupled viewing. “You can watch porn with your partner and both devices will sync along with the video,” says the company. “This is just one of the ways to explore new situations with your partner and talk about fantasies. Those extras help you to improve your sex life!”
New electronics purchases are enough to make most techy first-adopters giddy, but what about all those old-fashioned sex toys without multiple moving parts? Earlier this year, Kiiroo introduced an add-on to amp up Fleshlight’s classic strokers with a touch of robotic lust. The Launch, a collaboration between Kiiroo and Fleshlight, is a barrel-shaped device that attaches to any traditional Fleshlight masturbator to create a hands-free pleasure experience. Users can cycle through different speeds and modes, or hook it up to Kiiroo’s porn platform and sync the Launch’s movements with the adult stars on screen.
The team took their latest creation from Amsterdam all the way to Austin, Texas for the internationally-famous tech start-up and music conference, South By Southwest. Sex toy companies are just starting to have a presence at such mainstream events, but both Fleshlight and Kiiroo were generally met with excitement. “I think technology brings great opportunity to the sex industry, as it can show the mainstream media the adult industry in a new light,” says Kiiroo’s Chief Technology Officer Maurice op de Beek. “It was a great feeling to see such enthusiasm for our technology and all the hard work put into the design and functionality of the device.”
As sex-tech breaks into more open, social spaces, smart phones become the new medium for pleasure and connectivity. Companies like We-Vibe and Lelo’s sister brand, Pico Bong, use smart apps to bring the technological experience down to earth. Similar to Kiiroo’s real-time couples’ toys, We-Vibe’s wearable Sync vibrator for women puts her orgasmic potential in a partner’s hands. Download the vibe’s app and the Sync functions similarly to an old-school remote control vibrator – but 100 times better. Instead of fumbling with battery-operated remotes and the annoyingly short distance limits between the toy and controller, the power of the internet can send a teasing buzz from anywhere in the world. For serious phone addicts, Pico Bong turns getting off into a game. Their Remoji brand line, with toy options for all genders and body parts, buzzes along to music as users swipe across adorable animal characters and complete finger challenges that offer rewards in the form of vibrations.
The smart phone-centric sex toy range only grows from here. It’s almost impossible to find a modern kegel-ciser that doesn’t offer feedback and work-out stats via app. Pleasure products are accelerating in advanced tech design and having zero problems keeping up with mainstream electronics, largely due to young adult reliance on the internet. Millennials are a huge driving force in pushing taboo toward the tech sector. Although they’re spending less money than previous generations, they’re making more informed decisions about what they buy – and they definitely won’t be leaving their smart phones behind anytime soon. “Tech-savvy Millennials are keen to learn and embrace the future of technology, especially in regards to teledildonics and sex tech,” says op de Beek.
As it becomes more difficult to “unplug” and enjoy life that doesn’t revolve around a screen, techy toys might seem like a hindrance to real-life sex. However, tech-forward manufacturers’ goals are anything but preventative of staying in touch with your living, breathing partner. “We know that it can be hard to keep the spice in your relationship, especially when you are in a long distance relationship or traveling a lot,” remarks the Kiiroo team. “We give people the option to feel each other online [because] we want to bring people together.” In a fast-paced culture that increasingly finds ways drives us apart for our careers, our obligations, and our dreams, it’s almost ironic that our glowing screens just might be the key to maintaining our most human connections.