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Do We Really Need a "Smart" Vibrator?
If we made Kickstarters for new vibrators, we might actually get them.
BY KATE HAKALA
Yesterday, sex toy company Vibease launched a $15,000 Indiegogo campaign to get their latest technology, a Blue-tooth enabled "smart vibrator", to market. In less than 24 hours, hopeful buyers surpassed the goal by almost $5,000—and there's still 29 days left on the clock.
What can this vibrator possibly do to amass so much media attention and financial support when it's only in a beta version? The "smart vibrator" is squishy, pink, and is controlled through a Mobile app. The app is filled with a marketplace full of women's erotica. Once your preferred smut is selected, the Vibease syncs with the app and vibrates accordingly (no need for hands), bringing your personalized fantasies straight to your sex toy. The combination of audio, fantasy, clitoral stimulation, and emotional media will be able to cater to a woman's desire in a much more comprehensive and fulfilling way, at least according to founder Dema Tio.
That's what makes this particular toy so compelling to backers: its intelligence, its memory, and its immersive quality. While other technology designed for women has been focused on the modes of the vibrator itself, the Mobile app plays upon the mental components of what stimulates all of us, with the potentiality for long-distance Mobile-controlled partner play. But above all, perhaps the most patented thing about Vibease's pitch is that, unlike other seemingly too-good-to-be-true sex tech, it may actually make it onto our shelves.
Why aren't we all using our smartphones as sex toys and bridging the gap between stimulating content and the stimulator? The idea seems genius, simplified, and streamlined. It feels like we're perennially introduced via blogs and news article to products we could almost have, sexual utopias just within a laptop's reach. But innumerable tech ventures, namely wearable sex technology, have inherited the curse of rarely seeing the light of day, nevermind our bedside tables.
It's not necessarily the science or the feasibility of making one revolutionary item—it's the expense of the technology and the lack of a launching pad for the producer. Creating a prototype is far different from creating a mass manufactured and safe toy. LovePalz and Fundawear are two new sex technologies that come to mind that couldn't seem to gain any real traction until recently. The ideas were novel, the demand was high, but we know from the reports of sex-based start-ups that garnering investors can be a Sisyphean task. Who can back our future vibrators, dildos, and Mobile erotica? The answer might have to be us.
Vibrators aren't always well received by crowdfunding sites. The crowdsourcing ringleader Kickstarter banned Crave's campaign earlier this year for not aligning with their company policies. But smaller, more grassroots crowdfunding sites like CKIE and Indiegogo—if Vibease is any indication—could be a viable way to actually procure our sex tech. And if they're going for $79.99 a pop, it seems likely the company will need the springboard.
After watching the Vibease campaign on Indiegogo, I'm okay with what they're asking from their public. Becoming a backer also could potentially mean having a voice within a company; Vibease's campaign is pretty transparent about wanting comments on their beta app. User-generated funds beget user-generated feedback and a personalization of an already explicitly personal product. If we keep demanding cutting edge technologies and better designs in the hopes of reinvigorating the sex toy field, we might need to quit hoping and just invest in it ourselves.