The Future Of Sex Toys

But first, Lux Alptraum knocks much of the conversation around sexbots for omitting any consideration of female pleasure:

[I]t is women, not men, who are the primary purchasers of sex toys, and thus the consumers most likely to literally take them home. “After 37 years [in the sex toy business], women have always been our customer,” says Coyote Amrich, purchasing manager for San Francisco-based sex toy shop Good Vibrations. “That was the driving force of our business.” … An analysis of U.K. sex toy distributor LoveHoney’s sales data shows that, even as high-tech sex gadgets make their way onto the market, it’s still the century-old vibrator that holds consumer interest – 18% of all purchases.

So what might a more magical Magic Wand look like?

Instead of futuristic gadgets that remake the very notion of sex, Amrich predicts innovations that are more about improving on existing technology; making toys that are lighter, quieter, and stronger, as well as using better materials and with better battery life. Amrich also sees a future for toys that enhance the sex we’re already having, “creating ways for people to have enhanced intimacy and enhanced sensation.” …

But what sort of technology could allow for that sort of enhanced experience? Dr. Kristen Stubbs, a queer/pansexual roboticist who has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon and runs a crowdfunding startup for sexuality-focused technology, offered up one possibility. For Stubbs, the true future of sex toys lies in shifting the products from open-loop to closed-loop controllers. In layman’s terms, a device with open-loop control responds only to its on/off switch: You turn it on, it does its job (in the case of a sex toy, by vibrating), and that’s the end of the story. A closed-loop control, on the other hand, has sensors that provide the device with information about the outside world, allowing it to adapt its behavior as the situation requires.