Sextech: The Industry To Watch

Sextech: The Industry To Watch

From teledildonics, to the newly opened sex doll brothel in Barcelona, the future of sextech has myriad exciting possibilities—and consequences.

There are still many questions yet to be answered as we embark upon this new era of technology-facilitated pleasure. What will consent look like when any person we desire is available in alternative form, via hologram, to fulfill our ultimate fantasies? If I use an app connected to my vibrator (teledildonics), will the company track and sell my intimate data like the recent WeVibe fiasco? How old must a patron be to visit a sex doll brothel? And furthermore, how the hell do they clean the sex dolls when the customer is finished?

As with every other industry, technology is here to disrupt sex. That is, if investors can rise to the occasion. And it’s not just investors startups must convince. Obtaining something as simple as a bank account, hosting services, coding, and encryption or payments services can be a challenge for those working in the business. But 500 Startups estimates the industry to be worth around $30.6 billion. So why aren’t more investors pumping in the dough?

We’re still living in a society too afraid and too ashamed to openly discuss sex. In fact, there are really only two culturally prescribed negotiations when it comes sex: bragging about it or hiding it. This doesn’t just hurt all the curious insecure souls wondering if their proclivities, desires, and functions are normal. It also hurts the elementary school kids, who stumble upon content they probably shouldn’t, thereby getting their first notions and ideas about sex from hardcore porn rather than from an honest open conversation with their parents.

Luckily, Cindy Gallop, sextech goddess and founder of makelovenotporn, sought out to create the social sex revolution. “Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference” reads the tagline on the site. As explained in her wildly famous TED talk, she saw a need in the market and took action to address it. Her platform inspires openness about real world sexual relationships versus those depicted in porn. But years later, she’s still struggling to get the funding she needs. The problem, is at least partly because, as Gallop says, “We are enormously uncomfortable talking sex. That extends to the media and tech blogs: they cover the part that’s easy to talk about, which is the hardware. It’s a lopsided, male-dominated view.”

Although many investors are still squeamish about jumping in the sack with sextech companies, through the help of crowdfunding (Gallop is currently crowdsourcing on iFundWomen), word of mouth, and a few rouge investors, sextech is still poised to be the next big explosion.

Dame Products, for example, is dedicated to making the world a happier place, one vagina at a time. Their first toy Eva, holds the title for the highest crowdfunded sex toy on Indiegogo. Fin, their second product to market, was Kickstarter’s first ever sex toy. The two female founders of Dame have quite the impressive background. Janet Lieberman earned her degree in mechanical engineering from MIT, while her partner Alexandra Fine, got her masters in Clinical Psychology with a focus on human sexuality from Columbia University.

CEO Polly Rodriguez is another female founder slaying the sextech sector. In 2012 she founded Unbound, a female sexual wellness company that is changing the way women understand and shop for products that promote a healthy sex life. The company started as a subscription box service, and has since expanded to offering their own product line. Not only is their social media game fire, they donate 6.9% of all profits to nonprofit organizations that support female sexual health and wellness. Last year alone, Unbound grew by 700%.

With parents and educators alike not discussing sex or porn with kids, and with investors cock blocking sex tech, what lies ahead?

Thankfully, one fierce female is helping us to uncover the answers. Sex futurist, Bryony Cole is the host of the award-winning podcast, Future of Sex. In the latest episode, she speaks with the creator of Real Dolls, about how AI-enabled real dolls are coming to life. The podcast has garnered attention from across the globe, including Mashable, CBS, and Huffington Post, and more recently was selected to be a part of the Walkley Foundation and Google Media Incubator program.

We may not know what the future holds for love, sex, technology, or the cultural stigma that’s attempting to shape the business of pleasure. But one thing is for certain. The future of sextech is female.

Mal Harrison is the director of the Center for Erotic Intelligence. Find her on twitter or instagram.

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