Technology And Sex: SexTech!

Many people think that the consumption of pornography and the use of sex toys are the dregs of humanity and the most vulgar of pleasures. It’s dirty, its filthy, it should be behind closed doors, and it should never be spoken about. I hate to break it to you, but, the world owes pornography, and indeed the adult Industry, a lot. When it comes to advancements of technology, you’ll often find that the porn and adult industry are at the forefront of technology. E-Commerce websites, Online Streaming (1994), webcams (1995), a demand for Increased Bandwidth and internet speed and even the VCR are just a few examples of what the world owes the pornography industry. With an increase in accessibility combined with the breaking down of social taboos and the normalisation of sex and pleasure it’s little wonder that Pornhub chews through 147 gigabytes a second every single day. But why is the sex industry of the forefront of technology when we still struggle to embrace sex without having to hide it, and what are the benefits of sex tech?

SexTech is an increasingly common word being used to describe the rise of technology within sex toys. At it’s core SexTech refers to the idea and philosophy that tech is being used to enhance and innovate areas of human sexuality, and the sexual experience. Think contraception apps, we-vibe connectivity apps, Elvie Vaginal ‘fit bits’, sex robots, vibrators and even Artificial Intelligence designed to simulate/replace/replicate intimacy. But it does go further, those are some of the more obvious and more visible things when it comes to technology and sex. Some of the things that we don’t consider are media reports on sexual assault, the #metoo movement, the Gender Equality Movement,  – all of which are being bolstered by technologies from reporting tools and anonymous style apps, to the prolific use of social media, to their visibility on media platforms every single day of the week. In this regard, SexTech is a term that is starting to see more use with each passing day and becoming increasingly important as we acknowledge and interact with it. At the end of the day we simply cannot escape the idea that sex and sexuality (and/or the lack thereof) is at the heart of everything that we do as people. It’s defaulted into us from a young age and for the majority of individuals it becomes an inseparable and unique part of our personality and our identity. It has the power to structure our relationships, lives, personal identity, and even our own happiness.
So why the big deal about tech?  Interconnectedness and cosmopolitanism are becoming increasingly prevalent – the power of the smartphone in your pocket today exceeds the computing power that put humanity on the moon. Technology is becoming increasingly inseparable to our day to day lives, we use it to make our lives easier, so why wouldn’t we be using it for sex and pleasure? Technology is becoming a significant part of sex and the sex industry, and as we continue to break down the barriers and hidden nature of sex, it’s only going to become more viable, more prevalent and increasingly interconnected. Sex tech and the breaking down of the taboo nature of sex and pleasure work in conjunction with each other. The more we talk about sex, the more technology will jump on the bandwagon. The more technology jumps on the bandwagon, the more we will talk about sex. This cycle will eventually see the continued and increased normalisation of ideologies surrounding sex and pleasure, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Indeed, the newest realms of sextechs is seeing the prominence of groups previously seen as invisible – with events, technology, gear and toys now being created for people with disabilities, the ageing population, trans people and everyone(1) in between. Previously, such toys and gear were made for the general population because of the business viability. It made sense in terms of business profitability to market toys to a broad spectrum of people in order to increase your market share. Sex was not open, pleasure was not discussed. Now, within an increasingly e-commerce market, the ability to ship products across the globe, the increasing percentage of people with internet access (55% in 2018), and our willingness to embrace pleasure and gear, it now makes sense to create products for the purpose of equitable access to pleasure vs profit margins and market shares.
Such groups, previously ignore or dismissed, are now seeing an increased access to technology allowing them to offer their own insights and to help with the development of products and services that best suit their needs and desires. It’s not all happiness and roses though. Recently there was great concern at the actions of the Consumer Electronics Show which initially awarded a group of women an honouree title in the Robotics and Drone category for their Ose ‘Personal Massager’. Its use of micro-robotics to aid in providing blended orgasms was seen as innovative and inclusive. That is, until the Consumer Technology Association (CTA which owns, and produces the CES event) stepped in to strip them of their award on the basis that the entry was deemed to be disqualified because it did not meet their rules Standards. CTA referred to a rule which stipulated that entries seen to be ‘immoral, obscene, indecent, profane, or not keeping with” the organisations image will be disqualified. I’m not going to go too into depth on the issues here, largely that this statement implies that women’s sexual wellness products are deemed to be indecent, but it does show that the tech industry still has some work to do when it comes to mixing technology with sex. There’s hope though.
Body Hacks
Japanese Robotics companies are spearheading the use of sex robots and Pleasure AI to advance technologies in robotics research, computer sciences and Artificial Intelligence mechanics and systems. Phones are increasingly becoming connected to our sex toys and the idea of pleasure. The more we embrace SexTech, the more powerful and cost effective it will become.

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