Sensual Technology: How Sex Tech Is Becoming All Kinds of Pleasurable
We really love technology—in all kinds of ways.
We’ve always been smitten with technology: at least for as long as it’s been around. But now our devices aren’t just handy but are becoming actually, aesthetically, sexy.
Just ask any serious gear aficionado: it’s like they’re aroused not just by what their devices can do but how beautiful they are.
But what’s coming soon in sex tech—the perfect melding of erotic stimulation and arousing aesthetics—is really going to turn you on.
Form follows function… or function follows form?
Human nature, I guess: as soon as anyone invents anything, the next generation of it gets sexy. Locomotives, at first, were steamy, clanking, greasy monstrosities. Sure, they got Victorians from point A to point B, but soon they were brightly colored, filigreed, and satin lined, as well as efficient.
In the following century or so, designers had become celebrities, and their technology lusted after for its sensual appeal and function. Raymond Loewy, for example, applied his own particular style of organic streamlining to everything from airplanes to the already mentioned locomotives.
In the 60s and 70s, German industrial designer Luigi Colani took the pleasure and sensual aesthetic of those decades into engineering. While the functionality of some of his designs for cars, trains, ships, and such is a matter of debate, you have to admit that his creations have a very arousing appeal.
But designers these days are really taking the idea of sensual technology to heart. Products are often not just functionally a turn-on but are sensual as well.
Sex tech as sexy tech
Obviously, we are seeing a lot of progress towards pure sensual technology: the melding of being turned on with and turned on by sexuality devices.
Many developers have even used the idea of sensual technology in their marketing materials as well as their design aesthetic. Co-founder/designer Ti Chang of CRAVE, an adult pleasure device, said, “If anything deserves good design, it’s the things we bring to bed with us.”
Many sex tech products mentioned here on Future of Sex reflect that concept. The Kiiroo smart vibrator isn’t just pleasant to use, but also pleasurable to look at. The OH-DOMETER by OhMiBod is profoundly intimate, yet doesn’t look at all like hardware.
With developers and designers totally embracing the idea that sex tech should appeal to the eyes and mind, as well as the body and “naughty bits,” we are seeing technology that is a perfect melding of mechanical elegance, sensuality, and practically seamless interactivity.
The question then is what’s next?
Teledildonics has recently seen a huge innovation leap with Internet and Bluetooth-enabled devices—like from Kiiroo and other companies.
But it’s in the materials and construction that true sensual technological innovations will arrive. A promising avenue for this is what researchers are calling soft robotics: removing the clunky and, let’s be honest, often frightening mechanical side of technology with components made of pliable, warm, and even sensual plastics controlled by air compression and/or fluid-filled hydraulics.
Not to create weirdness referencing a Disney flick here at Future of Sex, but the healthcare provider companion Baymax in Big Hero Six is a perfect example of both sensual—though not sexual—allure with a soft robotic form. Though one character did describe the robot as “like spooning a warm marshmallow.”
As soft robotics continues to evolve, more than likely we’ll see sex tech devices that will not just appear alluring, but also be able to act and react much more naturally.
Beyond the physical uncanny valley
In aesthetics, the term uncanny valley describes when artificial beings like robots are created to appear very lifelike; however, they fall short of looking perfectly human. This juncture evokes a feeling of revulsion or uncanniness in the viewer.
While this can be seen pretty easily in video games, there is some concern that erotic devices may stumble down into this valley as well.
A periodic example of the uncanny valley are developments in life-sized sex dolls. As they get more and more lifelike in both appearance and abilities, some find they become more and more creepy.
Yet, fans of these near-androids say that the erotic appeal isn’t that the dolls are trying to be perfectly human, but that they are coming close to that ideal mixture of erotic aesthetic and sensual technology; that fans are aroused by both the purpose as well as the design of the product, and not because it looks perfectly human.
The fact remains that our devices, designed with sex in mind or not, have become an intimate part of our lives. We caress them, we lust after them, they amplify our senses, they enhance our contact with others, and they do it with an air of, if not beauty, then enticing style.
But as more and more developers push the aesthetic arousal of form, and engineers press on with the limits of function, we will no doubt be in for not just a future of erotic sensation but also one of arousing design.