Be honest. When you hear the term sextech, what do you think of? Remote control underwear? Virtual reality porn? Robots? We’ll get to the robots later, but to begin with, it may be helpful to first define the term sextech. Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster fail miserably at this, so we’ll turn to Bryony Cole, sextech expert and founder of futureofsex.org. She has defined sextech as “any technology designed to enhance sexuality.”
It may be tempting to equate enhanced sexuality with enhanced sexual pleasure, but it would be a shame to take such a reductive approach. Sextech has the potential to completely transform all areas of sexuality for all types of people. That could look like facilitating intimacy in a long-distance relationship, helping people recover from trauma, revolutionizing infertility treatments and restoring sexual function to those with disabilities.
The Future is Here
Even if you’re not familiar with the term sextech, there’s a good chance you’re using it already. If you’ve ever swiped right, you’ve used sex tech. That’s right, dating apps are probably the most commonly used sextech right now. Sex toys fall into this category, too, as well as fertility apps, online platforms that celebrate and support LGBTQ+ communities and our very own Popstar supplements all fit under the umbrella of sextech.
Blame it on the Puritans, but in the U.S., sex has always been shrouded in a veil of shame and embarrassment. Even though we are all sexual beings, sex remains one of the last great taboos of modern society. However, we’re starting to see prudish attitudes change because we’re starting to reframe the conversation around sexual health and wellness as opposed to sexual desire and pleasure.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people all around the world found themselves isolated, lonely, disconnected, sick and physically separated. Almost immediately, it became obvious that technology could help connect people in new and novel ways. In the annals of sextech history, it may come to pass that the dark days of 2020 - 2021 will be forever known as the start of the next sexual revolution.
Many of the sextech innovations that we’ve seen in the last couple of years have revolved around making sex more comfortable and more accessible with an emphasis on connection and intimacy. As we begin to see sex as a necessary part of our overall health, tools to enhance our sexual wellness will become more and more mainstream, and sextech will become a bigger part of our daily lives.
A Venture Worth Taking
It’s no coincidence that large investment firms are starting to pour money into the sextech sector. It’s estimated that sextech is poised to become a $122-billion-dollar industry by 2024. However, many roadblocks remain. Not the least of which are “no adult content” rules and regulations at most banks, software companies, web servers and virtually any other mainstream digital infrastructure that sextech companies would need to utilize in order to run their businesses.
However, many believe we’re about to see the emergence of companies who specifically cater to sextech companies. To understand what that might look like, we only need to look as far as the legal cannabis industry. Once state laws loosened to allow for legal marijuana sales, a whole cottage industry of cannabis-focused businesses started to boom, including banks, advertising agencies, law firms and agricultural supply companies.
Aubrie Pagano is a partner at the venture capital firm XFactor Ventures, and she expects to see a 10% YOY growth in the sextech market. In an article for Forbes magazine, she explains, “The current cultural climate has created a window to shake up this moth-eaten market with new, innovative thinking and design.” And while the industry has historically been geared toward cisgender men, there’s a new emphasis on female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ consumers.
What About the Robots?!
The robots are cumming. Literally! The kitschy blow-up sex doll is officially a thing of the past. Today’s sexbot is incredibly realistic. Thanks to AI, these lifelike androids can carry on a conversation with you, laugh at your jokes and respond to your touch. AI sex robots are designed not only for sexual stimulation but also for companionship. Barcelona has even introduced the world’s first sex doll brothel that you can visit for about 100 euros an hour.
AI is also being used to create smarter and more innovative sex toys. These futuristic devices are generally app-based and can access the internet via Bluetooth so that you can control the toy from a distance, synchronize with other toys, send video and pictures, or play music. We’re also excited to see sex toys moving in a more gender-neutral and non-binary direction with more and more options focusing on the needs of marginalized communities.
New 3D printing technology is also putting sextech tools into the users’ hands. Anyone with a digital printer can now design and create their own sex toys. This democratization of sex toy manufacturing has huge implications for the sex toy industry. With open-source software and a diverse community of creators who are willing to share their patterns online, the sky’s the limit for innovation and cost-savings.
It’s Just the Beginning
The future looks bright for sex technology, and we’re going to be paying close attention to new developments in the field. As a physician who specializes in sexual health, I see great potential for sextech to improve the sex lives of so many people. When we start to look at sexual satisfaction and pleasure as an integral part of our overall health and wellness, we may finally start to see a shift in society’s views on sex. And that, in my expert opinion, would be an advancement that has the potential to benefit us all.