SexTech sounds like yet another buzzword. But actually it isn’t. It is the term that stands for a never ending chase for attention, satisfaction and simulation that is embedded in our natural instincts. From our 1st steps on this planet until now we have been looking for new and exciting ways to satisfy our sexual needs. And technology helped us along the way. Today, SexTech is a rather less covered technology business . This article is an introduction into a forgotten but mesmerising world.
What you will find out in this article
- Sex and technology have been a match in heaven since the beginning of human kind
- The SexTech world is a men driven world, but women are doing great things too
- How technology will change the way we look at dating and our sex lives in the future
The soap opera of humans and sex
As mammals, we human beings need to reproduce in order to keep our specie alive and kicking. But that is not the only reason why we are having sex. Sex makes us happier, takes the stress away from the day to day struggle and makes us feel wanted by others. This approach towards sexual activity has accelerated since the invention of anti conception like ‘the pill’ and condoms. Since the 60s we have a much more open approach towards sex. But where does technology come into play?
Technology is our partner in crime in search for new ways to sexually satisfy ourselves and others. Before SexTech became a thing, people were already making the craziest sex toys or using personal ads (all the way back to 1600s) to get in touch with their future wife or husband. We are and always will be mammals that innovate for the sake of satisfying our needs.
The technological ways we invented to satisfy our sexual needs are countless. Sex toys or personal ads are not even the most remarkable ones. What changed this “business” completely was the invention of film and the camera, and later the internet. The 1st ever adult video dates back to 1896 and was a 7-minute French film called “Le Coucher de la Mariée”. In less than 120 years the adult entertainment became a global $20 billion business that is eager to implement new technologies. More on that in a bit.
So SexTech was born…
With the revolution of the internet and the startup world, the SexTech business was born. Wikipedia describes SexTech as “a technology, and technology-driven ventures, designed to enhance, innovate and disrupt in every area of human sexuality and human sexual experience”. So we should approach this sector in a very broad way. Any way technology and a certain aspect of sex ‘meets’ could be seen as ‘SexTech’. But preferably we should look further, to really understand what is happening in this world right now.
The current coverage of this business is mostly focused on these technological inventions. Every time hi-tech augments an existing toy, media or approach, it is considered Sextech. For example, CNET made a list of 12 ‘hi-tech bedroom toys’.
Sad, as the people that are part of this world are doing much more than just this. Today, the sex industry faces a lot of censorship. Also, people still have a hard time talking about their sex lives, which results in a prude way of reporting about this subject. Furthermore, the SexTech has a problem with gender equality, such as the porn industry, it is a men’s world. This results in a focus on satisfying men’s sexual needs. What women want, is often less of a priority.
Great people, awesome initiatives
The SexTech world is a men’s world, but it’s the women that make things happen in this world. Take Cindy Gallop for example, who founded makelovenotporn.com in 2009. The website aims to change the way people look at porn. Today, porn has become the sole source of sex education for many young boys. This results in views on the matter that does not fit with the real world really well. Cindy does not look at porn as something bad, she just want to change the way people look at porn. Such initiatives could never been possible without the invention of the internet, or at least could not have the impact it has today.
Because of the huge censorship and prudeness towards the subject the SexTech business is having a hard time finding funding. One of the other goals Cindy hopes to achieve with her project makelovenotporn is creating a $10 million incubator fund to invest in the future of sex technology. Funding is one thing, market your product as a sextech CEO is another. Last year SexTechGuide reported that many SexTech businesses were banned from the biggest consumer tech show in the world, CES. “Adult products’ is not an official product category for CES”, a CES spokesperson told SexTechGuide in the article.
In order for the SexTech community to reach their full potential, they need to focus on getting rid of the many taboos that still rest on on many aspects of sex. Such as female mastrubation or using tech to enhance the sexual experience.
Another great initiative that is going against the men first ‘mainstream’ is O’Actually. Founded by Kit Murray Maloney and Vigidis Bronder, the startup aims to create satisfying sexual content for women. Why? “Because genuine female orgasms help heal and better the world’. The content is pretty diverse, as its not only video, but also stories, pictures and art.
Gender equality is a hot, and most of all important topic that seems to be alive and kicking in the SexTech business. Unfortunately, gender equality is still only an alternative. Men are still the people behind most technological developments in the SexTech business. But are surely not less exciting. Covering all the steps towards the act of having sex, here are the most interesting developments in the SexTech world today.
The Porn industry
The adult entertainment industry is a gigantic business. For example, every search query out of 8 is related to Porn in Google. 4,6 million websites on the web are in one way related to the adult entertainment industry. And I could go on with dropping statistics to show how huge it is. But that is no the most interesting thing about this business. Their approach towards new technology is.
Going from payments over the internet to teledildonics (que?). The sex industry is on a never ending discovery to commercialise their product in new and exciting ways. First of all they introduced the demand for faster internet as their product is mostly visual, which demands faster loading times. Secondly, it made the distance between those looking for adult content and the supplier of this content smaller through the use of visual media. The latest development aims to eliminate distance even more. It is called “teledildonics’, which is a $3-dollar word for haptic technologies that you can control from a distance. An example of this is RealTouch, a high-tech orifice with heaters and servomotors to recreate the sensations of a porn scene.
In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world’s first computer dating service. Dating apps have come a long way since. Today, Tinder made mobile dating easy (and superficial). The app introduced a complete new way to get in touch with people. Tinder’s statistics show what an impact the app has had on people’s dating life. The app has 50 million users world wide and receives a total of 1.4 billion swipes a day. Some call it a ‘Hot or Not’ app, but they miss the point about the app. If used wisely, Tinder can supercharge your dating life in ways you couldn’t imagine before. I use Tinder as well and what I like the most about it, is the possibility to meet girls from all over the world just by swiping right on my phone.
The dating app is becoming bigger everyday, and some apps even reacted on the superficial way Tinder connects people with each other. The app Hinge for example, which calls itself a ‘relationship’ app. With such a great supply of people to hook up with these days, Hinge wanted to create an app that focuses on building stronger and deeper relationships. It remains to be seen if that’s possible through the fast moving technologies of today, but props for the initiative nonetheless.
Prostitution is one of the oldest occupation on the planet. Regulations lets the occupation balance on a thin line between illegal and legal. The question here if regulations are really the solution as this encourages people to move towards less ethic and human friendly ways of earning money within the business.
With the internet came transparency, and this also seems the solution for the prostitution and escort business. Today, the Canadian Slixa has made the escort service much more open and approachable. It has launched its service in most of the big cities in the US through the use of an online platform approach. A brave thing to do in a prude country like America.
The Act of Making Love…
I never thought I would write this. But in this section we need to divide between sex with people and sex with robots. WHUT?! I know I know. This not some spelling mistake, it is just the world we are living in today. As Noel Sharkey, an AI expert and former advisor to the United Nations on robotics and AI, says sex robots will be mainstream in 10 years.
… with robots
World’s biggest producer of sex dolls, RealDoll is building a ‘sex robot’ through the use of AI. As the sex doll said itself in the documentary the New York Times, they aim to “maximise [the] effectiveness doing sexual activity”. There must be a market for this type of inventions. How else would it be possible that a company like RealDoll exists in this world in the first place. But would it really be possible that robots will take over a huge part of our sex lives? A huge stigma rests on the implementation of using technology to enhance your sexual experience. A sex robot might be a bridge too far, at least for now…
The idea behind such a robot is easy. The robot will do whatever the person who owns it, demands. Through AI it will learn the preferences and what he or she doesn’t like. So, the experience will increase in a tremendous way. The only problem here is that what porn is already doing, will only become more present: a wrong perception of what sex should be compared to what people demand. Male sex dolls exists but based on the amount of boobs in the NYT documentary, this business is mostly built upon males looking for a way to satisfy their needs. The AI aspect will guarantee a personalised experience but as a the human is in charge with the knowledge of sex based upon what they have seen in porn films, this could become ugly pretty quickly.
…with your partner
One thing the internet did to our lives is globalising our experiences. Today we can talk to people from all over the world, through email and video. So if you can talk through the internet, why not have sex with your partner who is on the other side of the world? That’s probably what Durex was thinking when they invented Fundawear, female and male vibrating underwear that is connected to a smartphone app. This app then allows you to get the ‘sexy time’ started by selection where you would like the Fundawear to vibrate on your girl- or boyfriends body.
It is the first step of the condom manufacturer into the connected devices world and it looks like this could revive many long distance relationships in a great and fun way. I am only wondering about the security of the product. Imagine a hacker fooling around with the software. This could result in some very awkward situations.
Satisfied after all
The Sextech community might be one of the most interesting sectors to keep an eye on. As a lot of things are happening on a lot of different fields around sex and dating. Minimising the prudeness towards certain aspects takes time. The gender equality initiative shows that less and less taboos exists around the matter. The only thing that is missing is a decent amount of funding and coverage. But that will (hopefully) change along the way. As an innovative business like this deserves as much coverage than any other emerging tech business. When the prude approach towards sex technology will slowly fade away, coverage and funding will start happening. And what will come out of this business at its full potential will be impressive.
Such as all new tech sectors the premature face comes with fairly useless inventions. The many connected sex toys that are on the market today will change into fun and interesting developments that will truly change the way we look at dating and sex in the future.
What about inter planet relationships? Or a world where gender is no longer an obstacle when it comes to sex. Guys that are pregnant, women that no longer needs guys to get pregnant and most of all sexual satisfied people that are happy and productive. I think that is the true reason of existence of SexTech in our society today. And that is a damn good reason to exist if you ask me.