The Future Of Sextech Is More Than What Meets The Eye
The sextech industry is already booming but according to Future of Sex chief executive Bryony Cole, it’s about to explode.
Set to take the stage at Melbourne’s Pause Fest this Thursday, Cole will reveal the future of the sextech and who has their eyes set on the industry.
Cole says consumers, investors and entrepreneurs are increasingly becoming interested in the financial potential on the taboo yet multibillion-dollar sector.
The ex-Microsoft employee also has a podcast, Future of Sex, that hears from sex workers, app developers, entrepreneurs and activists on how the technology is influencing pleasure, sex and relationships.
But Cole, who resides in New York for most the year, admits there is still a significant difference when talking openly about sex between Australia and the US.
‘In the last year, I think the appetite is becoming a lot more open to conversations around sexuality. There is a bit of the Commonwealth [in Australia] – the properness,’ Cole told the Australian Financial Review.
‘Australians are so relaxed, we can generally be pretty comfortable with anything – unless it’s talking about sex.’
This difference can also be highlighted through popular shows in the US that explore sex taboos – Slutever from Vice, for example and Broad City, which centres the female sexuality through the portrayal of two young women and their sexual pursuits.
But despite the overwhelming popularity of both US shows, Australia does not offer an equivalent.
When people think of sextech, porn, dating apps and mainstream sex toys like vibrators usually come to mind. But Cole argues this is stereotypical and narrow understanding of the industry does not represent the diversity of offerings – including products, services, apps and innovations that are already in the making.
Additionally, she argues that there is a growing market of people who approach sex as consumers that want more options for pleasure, with innovators rushing to fill the unmet desires with new technology.
California-based company Sinthetics, for example, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of the male sex doll, aimed at addressing the gap in sex toys for women by creating the complete male figure that gives women a chance to create the embodiment of their own perfect male.
Sex toys, up until recently, have almost exclusively been catered for and enjoyed by men.
The sex doll is customisable to the individual’s taste and made on order, which comes in final form as a full-grown, synthetic male with a detachable penis that is said to be hardly indistinguishable from the ‘real thing.’
Sinthetics believes the sex industry is rapidly changing to suit people’s individual tastes and has capitalised off providing sex dolls to match both sexual desire and the intimacy of lying with a whole body.
‘Gabriel is the… angel. And that’s why we selected that name. He’s the one that’s going to liberate us into whatever (sexual) future we have,’ Bronwyn Keller, co-owner of Sinthetics, told Vice’s Slutever.
‘Only now are we starting to get just a little bit of an inkling that women really do want male dolls… Only in the last few months our sales for male dolls has been equal to female dolls.’
Another example of new sextech innovation is one that addresses the stunted attitude towards the perceived male sexuality – the industry is often thought of as being dictated by pornography and big pharma offerings such as Viagra, Cole told the publication.
‘Now, this year especially, there’s this emphasis on technology solutions for issues stigmatised around men – that could be premature ejaculation, that could be painful sex, it depends where you’re at.’
But an American start-up, Morari Medical, is developing the first disposable wearable solution for premature ejaculation. Additionally, an app called Yo enables smartphones to turn into microscopes to help people check the health of their sperm.
It’s a particularly useful technology advancement, especially given that 40 to 50 per cent of all fertility issues in couples are resulting from male fertility issues, Cole says.
But Cole said the greatest impact on capital raising for the industry is sexist biases and warped perceptions of consumer demands.
Sinthetic is just one company that has succeeded from targeting the untapped female sexuality, with Unbound securing millions through addressing female sexual wellbeing and Dipsea earned a $8.2million profit for erotic audio content.
But they still say they are dwarfed from the money made by male pharma products, like Viagra.
American company, Roman, which sells kits including a monthly Viagra top up has raised around US $176.1 million. Another male sex pharma company, Hims, secured US $197 million.
The point Cole makes is that male-driven sextech have collectively raised US $373.1 million in comparison to female-driven sextech being lucky to exceed US $10 million in funding alone.
Companies like Sinthetic and their booming sales of the male sex doll is just one example of consumers being ready for diverse developments, but unfortunately the industry is lagging behind.
At this year’s annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, companies revealed sextech specifically designed for the female body also boomed in popularity, with Lora DiCarlo’s Ose product having a shipping delay because of the popularity in sales.