Sex Tech Crowds Played It Coy at CES 2021 Virtual Summit
The industry was welcomed back, yet computer screens caused dwindling engagement.
Though it took place virtually this January, the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show event still showcased new products and technologies in the industry, which notably consisted of sex tech.
Two years earlier the trade show had infamously threatened to ban sex tech companies from the main floor.
This year, however, self-pleasure brands including Lioness, Satisfyer, and the 2020 CES Innovation Award winner Lora DiCarlo (after being involved in 2019’s hubbub) were present.
Also virtually exhibiting their goods were Morari Medical, the makers of a wearable perineum patch that aids people dealing with premature ejaculation.
Getting comfortable with sex tech
Though the number of sex-related companies in attendance was down from the 11 that participated in 2020—understandable given economic conditions—roughly half of the 4,500 overall exhibitors from CES 2020 were present in 2021, too.
Any trepidation CES previously had toward the sexual wellness industry no longer appears to be moving forward—at least for the time being.
“CES is getting more comfortable with seeing that sex tech companies are not trying to display vulgar images or product demonstrations,” says Jeff Bennett, Morari Medical’s CEO and Founder, who felt restful yet bittersweet over staying at home instead of hustling between buildings at hotels.
“Rather, we’re here for sexual education, health, and wellness.“
According to Bennett, for 2020’s virtual events, CES required all vendors with virtual display assets to submit them for approval.
For a company marketing a premature ejaculation device prototype, not showing an actual penis is difficult. The fact that genitalia could not be explicitly shown required the workaround of placing a mound over a visual of a crotch to suggest to viewers that the figure was male.
Bennett also offered a sense of how sex tech firms may need to spend to adapt to regulations:
We invested some money in developing visual assets—in the form of a short animation—to showcase how our wearable patch is placed and how it works.
‘Seeing is believing'
Morari’s CEO is pleased with 11,000-plus views of those assets in two days, but is dismayed with the lack of engagement with the chat function
After viewing the educational video clip, virtual CES visitors could engage, via chatroom, with Morari personnel “stationed” at the booth. Ideally, this would allow for visitors to ask more in-depth questions in regards to the patch’s form and function.
Regarding if COVID-19 precautions limit Morari’s post-CES activities, Jeff Bennett said he does not expect the pandemic will not slow progress. To this end, he highlighted both research and development goals for 2021.
He added that working with clinicians, urologists, and adhesive manufacturers over the past year has improved the fit of the patch itself, ensuring that it painlessly sticks to the skin while also allowing the needed conductivity to impact the nerves.
Moreover, the company will be engaging in DELAID, it’s first official study highlighting their product’s ability to effectively neuromodulate the ability for men to achieve orgasm.
The study—involving ten couples participating in 12 intercourse events using the perineum-affixed device—has been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which considers whether or not research studies are safe and ethical for human participation. Preliminary results of the study are expected by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
However, when asked if an entirely virtual or hybrid real-time/virtual model could be ideal for CES and sex tech’s future, Jeff Bennett—who has a growing industry reputation as a quick-witted marketer—feels less than positive about that possibility.
At CES 2020, we had lines at our booth that were five, six, or seven people deep wanting to engage with our product. The most important concept with Morari’s technology—like any of our technology—is that seeing is believing. Visual and physical interaction creates comfort.
Image source: CES, morarimedical, Morari Patch Animation