CYBERSPACE – An article published this week on Vice’s Motherboard blog focuses on the struggles of creating pleasure products for an audience with vast tastes and an even greater reluctance to discuss them.
In the article “The Shape of Sex Toys to Come,” Jacqui Cheng interviews industry pundits about the innovations in pleasure product design as well as its shortcomings.
“Because of this culturally imposed taboo on discussing adult products, the sex toy user experience is weighted in favor of the terrible: with thousands upon thousands of products on the market, finding a toy with a decent user interface is like finding a needle in a haystack,” the article says.
Sex toy blogger Epiphora of HeyEpiphora.com offers criticism of some of the problems with user interface, which range from the simply non-intuitive to the overly technologically advanced.
"I actually think that, on the whole, cheaper toys tend to have better controls, because the companies aren't obsessed with being innovative," Epiphora told Motherboard.
The article highlights the importance of user feedback when it comes to product design, focusing on the unique design processes of innovative manufacturers LELO, Minna Life and Aneros.
LELO representative Cecilia Minges tells Motherboard that LELO employs a team of 20 customers to analyze prototypes before being finalized. The company also takes into consideration intended use when design controls, the article says.
Minna Life discusses its versatile product design process. Brian Krieger, Minna Life cofounder and product design engineer says sometimes the company will provide five to six iterations of a design to its users before they’re even ready for use.
“From there, testers will take a look at (but not use) the prototypes to give their feedback, which could result in multiple changes to the design before Minna gives users a prototype to take home and actually, well, test,” according to the article.
Designing for males and couples adds other levels of difficulty to creating effective user interfaces. Aneros’ prostate massagers were originally intended as medical devices and were driven into the pleasure products market by its users.
Aneros CEO CT Schenk tells Motherboard how the company’s cult-like fan base continues to inspire new designs.
“When we do product testing, we ask the questions that these guys will ask, and if they see a problem, they almost deliver a solution themselves,” he said.
Nevertheless, the taboo of discussing sex toys continues to impede their adoption by new users. Aneros and other pleasure product manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to educate and spread awareness about the benefits of sexual wellness.
When the general public overcomes its hesitation to discuss sex toys, pleasure product design can improve across the board, the article concludes.