Technology is already an integral part of the booming multibillion-dollar sex toy industry—and that’s just the beginning. No longer are the days of walking into a sex shop only to find phallic, jelly toys that leave you shocked and maybe a little embarrassed. Manufacturers are taking a new approach when they design and build a toy. Many of the most successful toymakers are hiring design and engineering teams to help them come up with a product that, well, helps you come.
Take Crave for example. Crave is a Bay Area-based company founded by Michael Topolovac and Ti Chang in 2010. Chang is an industrial designer with experience working for brands such as Trek Bicycle and Goody Products. She received her bachelor's in industrial design from Georgia Institute of Technology and her Master of Arts in design products from Royal College of Art in London. Topolovac has a degree in product design from Stanford University. The pair's first vibrator was the Duet, a rechargeable vibrator that resembles a thick tuning fork. The shape of the toy is important—it's designed designed to work on either side of the vaginal opening, which stimulates the clitoral legs, often resulting in orgasm.
When the Duet loses its charge, all you have to do is plug it into the USB port of your computer, or a wall adapter, which makes it very discreet and great for travel.
Vibrators aren't the only sex toys to see an innovation boom.
Vixen Creations is a company that specializes in premium silicone sex toys. This is nice, because silicone toys don't use plastic softeners.
The sex toy industry is unregulated, so it's legal for manufacturers to use softeners (phthalates) that are illegal to use in baby and dog toys. These plastic softeners are dangerous as preliminary research has shown phthalates to cause cancer.
One of the toys Vixen is best known for are their VixSkin dildos. Vixskin toys use dual-density silicone. This means the toy has a firm inner core and soft outer layer, which makes the toy feel very realistic and comfortable. One happy customer on an online sex toy retailer had this to say about a Vixskin toy, "I ordered the Bandit for my wife and upon its arrival she was almost freaked out by how real it felt."
In the Darwinian chart of sex toy evolution, pulsators are the latest in line. German sex toy manufacturer Fun Factory released the Stronic line of rechargeable sex toys in 2013. They're described as "pulsators," because they have a very distinct motion from what a vibrator does. It has a similar rhythm to that of a Shake Weight. When you turn it on, it quivers back and forth in many different pulsating patterns (see it in "Sex Toy Race" action here).
Twenty-first century sex toys stimulate the tech nerd and the perv in all of us! Even health care professionals are recommending sex toys to increase health.
Lenya Reese is a physician assistant and licensed midwife at Santa Fe's St. Francis Health Center. She says the power of orgasm—whether with a partner or by your lonesome—can do great things for mental, emotional and physical health.
"There is a very important hormone released with orgasm called oxytocin," she says. "[It] creates a strong feeling of being connected, and bonded with the person you're with. Regular orgasms create regular oxytocin and serotonin release.
Lo and behold, love is all you need!" Reese says sex therapists have been advising clients to use self-exploration to find what gets them going, instead of hoping a partner will stumble across it.
"Women who are newly sexually active often find they are less inhibited when they explore themselves," she points out. "Sex toys allow a means for finding what part of your body is the most sensitive, the most pleasure producing. For example, finding your own G spot with a vibrator can be an ecstatic experience."
Orgasms: just what the doctor ordered.