A Look at the Booming World of Wireless Sex Toys

A Look at the Booming World of Wireless Sex Toys

From conquering productivity challenges to tracking habits to complete time-wasting entertainment, there is quite literally an app for everything. It was only a matter of time until the trend hit the pleasure products industry, ushering in a new era of Bluetooth-enabled toys that could connect long-distance lovers and bring consumers a more personalized sexual experience.

Captivating mainstream audiences with their high-tech functions, app-controlled toys have helped facilitate open discussions regarding sexual wellness through media exposure. At this year’s CES, the latest developments in teledildonics were on display from brands such as Ohmibod and Satisfyer — both of which walked away from the international trade show with accolades. Currently, with the global pandemic, Bluetooth-enabled toys are getting even more attention — as people cope with maintaining an active sex life while social distancing.

[Kiiroo has] three main demographics: long-distance relationships, people looking for an immersive porn experience and webcam performers.

“We’ve already noticed a growing adoption of sextech toys due to the COVID-19 isolations,” Lovense’s Robyn Hemington said. “We expect that the need for sex tech will continue to grow and that people who use Lovense products can maintain a bond through physical intimacy. For instance, partners that are located in two different locations can activate each other¹s toys and pass control while maintaining a video, audio or text chat. As borders begin opening up and people begin traveling again, the need for long-distance connections will continue, especially for traveling executives or those deployed overseas by the military.”

Giving someone remote control of the intensity and patterns of one’s sex toy is a thrilling experience for a lot of people; creating a novel experience that consumers can enjoy as part of a couple whether they’re separated by physical distance or not. Additionally, app-connected toys can also be enjoyed during solo play with versatile ways to explore one’s pleasure.

“ App-based toys are appealing to people interested in tech and gadgets as there is a lot of enjoyment that comes from discovering how to use the app, how to customize it, and make it work in a way that’s just right for the user,” says Emily Walsh, a PR specialist, for We-Vibe.

With people currently confined to their homes, the time is ripe for embracing sextech and industry leaders are sharing insight in the most popular functions and products.

“Sextech continues to evolve at a rapid rate, and app-controlled toys are bigger than ever, with more advancements made in this area than any other,” Lovehoney global PR executive Ellie Ford said. “As a society, we are used to using apps to do everything from ordering food to dating, so it makes sense that our sexual relationships have also followed suit to the app world.”

App sex toys don’t only help make long-distance relationships feel just as sexually fulfilling as those living in close proximity, they also appeal to those looking for more control over their solo play with easily customizable settings that can be altered with a swipe of a finger.

Consumer Connection

The evolution of teledildonics has brought with it an increase of interest by consumers, who are starting to appreciate the vast possibilities that Bluetooth-enabled toys provide to connect with a long-distance lover — or a favorite cam performer.

“We have three main demographics: long-distance relationships, people looking for an immersive porn experience and webcam performers,” Kiiroo sales director Frank Kok said. “Back when we first started in 2014/2015, our main target demographic was long-distance relationships — couples that were separated by distance. As the technology progressed, and the interest in app-controlled toys started to rise, we started getting more interest from companies in the adult industry.”

Kiiroo has established itself as an adult entertainment industry innovator by encoding 2D and VR porn videos to sync up with their devices to give consumers a truly immersive experience.

“What you see on-screen is what you feel mimicked on your device,” Kok said. “From there, we found that there was huge potential for app-controlled toys in the webcam space.”

Similarly, Lovense initially launched with a focus on couples, however skyrocketed in popularity thanks to its Lush and Hush toys, which are now favorites among cam performers.

“By [integrating our first generation Lush and Hush into cam sites], we expanded our market immensely to include men and women in the sex industry,” Lovense’s Robyn Hemington said. “Since then, we have also created Mirror Life, a VR game that allows users to interact sexually with game characters by using Max 2. This expansion also aided in reaching a whole different consumer profile.”

Premium sex machine The Cowgirl debuted sporting its app for long-distance remote control, which is powered by Kiiroo’s FeelConnect app. According to COTR, Inc. Sales Director Kimberly Scott Faubel, “The Cowgirl App is a part of the whole package.”

“When we talk about The Cowgirl, it helps to educate consumers on the app-compatibility because it opens up possibilities for use,” she said. “Not only does the app allow long-distance play-partners to explore and have fun from a distance, but it also means cam workers can maximize the benefits of The Cowgirl with their viewers having control for a more personal experience. When someone can hand over control and power via The Cowgirl App, the connection between the partners intensifies, and that’s the entire goal!”

The core of the consumer audience has also changed in terms of age and gender of consumers, Hemington points out, noting that previously, the main demographic of sex toy shoppers was single women over 30, however nowadays, the core audience is composed of buyers aged 25 to 35 years old — and not just women.

“You may be surprised, but there are more men than women who buy our products,” Robyn said. “This suggests two things — the first being that sex toys have become a popular gift for women and secondly, this indicates the increase in popularity of toys among men.”

While the popularity of teledildonics among the camming community and long-distance couples is based in the desire to remotely connect with someone sexually, today’s sextech innovations enhance one’s relationship with their own bodies; thus drawing a different demographic.

“ At Lioness, we’ve found that people who’ve resonated with our products the most are those going through life changes,” Lioness co-founder and CEO Liz Klinger said. “The two most common points are mid-20s to mid-30s, usually someone who’s earlier in their professional career and find that they are well-versed in a lot of topics, but they crave to explore their own sexual pleasure further. There are people who are typically late 40s-60s who are looking to re-engage with their own sexuality.

“ A surprising number of people get Lioness as their first or second sex toy, mainly because they were specifically looking for something to help them learn and explore more specifically, and they liked the biofeedback and data capabilities that Lioness offers,” Klinger added. “Some of these people wouldn’t have otherwise bought a vibrator, but what Lioness specifically offered resonated with them.”

We-Vibe — the brand behind the eponymously named world-famous couples vibrator — ventured into the world of teledildonics in 2013 with the launch of its We-Connect app.

“There were a lot of questions from retailers and consumers about who would want an app for their sex toy and why,” WOW Tech’s Emily Walsh said. “Well, we know now as we did then, that there are lots of people who benefit! Simply put, We-Vibe’s We-Connect toys appeal most to couples looking to experience more pleasure and adventure in their sex life.”

Walsh says that the We-Vibe Chorus is popular because of how much it can be customized to the user’s preferences; however all of “We-Vibe’s app-controlled toys are great for folks in long-distance relationships,” she said. “With the video and chat options, as well as the remote control, it helps people stay connected both physically and emotionally with their partner regardless of where they are in the world.”

With the recent launch of the Satisfyer Connect app, Megwyn White, director of education at Satisfyer, says that the company believes that platform will appeal to those that are used to utilizing apps for dating and lifestyle purposes, such as millennials and older Gen Z-ers.

“Consumers within these demographics will find it a natural lifestyle fit,” she said.

According to White, Satisfyer also is relying on its affordable price points and an expanded 15-year product quality guarantee to appeal to an even wider demographic.

“We knew we had to deliver a better alternative at accessible prices to give consumers the opportunity to explore their own intimacy and build self-connection with the body, which is why we made our app free to consumers,” White said.

For Satisfyer, app technology was a natural next step for adding value to the brand’s product line, White added, noting that the app adds a “new dimension of user experience through synthesizing technology, sexual wellness and lifestyle, and therefore draws new consumers into the market.”

“We were inspired to create an app that would invite consumers to experience the most integrative features along with a robust selection of products, all integrated under a single app technology,” she said. “With enhanced personalization, sensorial feedback and remote play, consumers are invited to explore their sexuality and supported through the app technology for a safe and exciting journey.”

Svakom Sales Manager Alexandro Feynerol says that the appeal of app-controlled toys is already becoming appealing among those demographics that aren’t considered particularly tech-savvy.

“This is interesting, you’d imagine that the younger generations, millennials for example, would be the main demographic, but this technology goes beyond that,” he said. “People of every age seem attracted to these new features — with the younger folks that feel like it’s almost natural to be able to have such an intimate relationship even through a screen, and the older ones that, by having been around for a while longer, are excited and fascinated by this new world.”

Of course, the individuals that most benefit from Bluetooth-enabled pleasure products are those that are in long-distance relationships.

“Businessmen, soldiers or more simply, people in long-distance relationships have always had a common struggle in their relationships — the absence of intimacy with their loved ones,” Feynerol said. “When you’re miles, if not oceans away from your partner, how much would you pay to feel their touch? That’s what brings value to this technology — the possibility of bringing together those who, for a reason or another, are forced to live apart.”

Motorbunny CMO Craig Mewbourne says that with mostly everyone attached to their mobile devices nowadays, it makes them all potential users of app-controlled toys.

“We don't collect data beyond bug reports and device OS information, so it's impossible for us to say for certain but anecdotally, the usage is high across all ages and lifestyle groups,” he said. “Anyone with a phone is a candidate for use, and adoption continues to grow. Anyone who downloaded and played Angry Birds compulsively would be likely Motorbunny LINK users, and for the same reason — it's fun!”

Intuitive Design Is Everything

The last thing a sex toy user wants to deal with is a complicated app when they’re looking for quick satisfaction from their premium pleasure product. An intuitive, user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate is a must.

Kiiroo’s Frank Kok says that the brand’s Feel Connect app offers features to allow users to connect to their devices effortlessly.

“It has been designed with our customers at the center of the process to provide an intuitive experience that customizes features and content based on what our customers want and need to have a great time with partners and content in a safe and secure environment,” Kok said.

Since its launch, We-Vibe’s We-Connect app has strived to be user-friendly, WOW Tech’s Emily Walsh said. The We-Connect app is touch-based, allowing customers to control vibrations and intensity using motions that have become intuitive for smartphone owners.

“Pointing, swiping and pinching to make selections, increase or decrease intensity etc. — and the library of vibration patterns make it easy to explore options one click at a time,” she said. We-Vibe’s Chorus took things to the next level with its introduction of the squeeze remote. Chorus’ squeeze remote connects to the We-Connect app, and lets people take control of their vibe intensity simply by adjusting the tightness of their grip on the remote. We’ve learned a lot since 2014 about what people want from their app-controlled toys, and our team is constantly working to create the most personalized, intuitive experience possible.”

For being such a high-tech pleasure product, Lioness’ controls are designed with simplicity in mind. Rather than relying on an app to control the vibe’s functions, the Lioness app displays data collected from the vibe — which measures how muscles are squeezing and relaxing when in use. When synced to the Lioness app, it displays the information in an easy-to-read chart to see how arousal and orgasms may be changing over time.

“Basically, you use it like any typical vibrator — no additional steps required — the technology/magic happens behind the scenes,” Lioness’ Liz Klinger said. “When there’s something you’d like to see, you can sync to the app to see what happened, as well as track changes over time!”

Svakom’s Alexandro Feynerol also believes that the haptic technology that has become commonplace via mobile devices makes consumers more at ease with app-controlled pleasure products.

“The most intuitive functions are the [ones that are] most mainstream as well,” he said, adding that users may need to refer to their user manuals to familiarize themselves to high-tech toys’ additional functions, such as “being able to connect a toy to your phone, sharing the control of it with multiple people, video-chatting with your partner while they pleasure you.”

Satisfyer’s Megwyn White says that the experience starts with a welcoming look and easy pairing with a device. The app offers a number of fun ways to control Satisfyer devices, including music or voice-activated vibrations.

“Our design and visual palette display is easy on the eye, and filled with useful prompts and intuitive icons to help guide the user’s experience,” she said. We’ve made pairing devices extremely easy by simply holding down the power button with a double vibration to let you know that the device has been paired.”

The Satisfyer Connect app also has a smart watch feature that allows for motion sensing by utilizing the gyroscope function that controls intensity by mobilizing the wrist and arm.

“No screen is required so users can intuitively adapt to the experience using their own kinesthetic expression,” White said.

Motorbunny’s app automatically connects to the sex machine when it is opened on a mobile device, and a clean interface makes it easy to get started.

“Basic slider controls replace the manual knobs, and tabs offer other control options including tons of preprogrammed ‘Buzz’ and ‘Twirl’ routines,” Motorbunny’s Craig Mewbourne said. “The most user-friendly aspect is the seamless sharing of remote control. One click and a private link is generated to share with a partner anywhere in the world to use, no app necessary.”

Added Value

While Bluetooth-enabled toys are admired for their ability to bridge the gap between long-distance lovers (or between fan and cam model), app-compatible toys also offer added value through added functions and customization.

“Being able to customize your toy settings helps to make your experience more personal,” Kiiroo’s Frank Kok said. “Creating your own vibration patterns, in-app texting and video chat are just some of the features that users can use to enjoy their intimate moments alone or with a partner.”

Lovehoney’s free Desire app features a user-friendly design that allows users to control their toy remotely from their mobile device or let their partner take control.

“The app allows you to create a series of patterns and manipulate the intensity, so you can treat your partner to what you know they like, or tease them from warm-up into the final climax, as you would if you were together,” Lovehoney’s Ellie Ford said. “It is even possible to create and save a series of patterns, like you would a playlist, and set it for different moods.”

The Lovense App offers another useful feature — an alarm clock.

“You just need to set up the alarm clock in the app and the wearable toy will wake you up with vibrations,” Lovense’s Robyn Hemington said. “We also offer the ability to experiment with public play, which is when your partner controls your toy, discreetly, while you're going about your daily life. Such videos have become popular and gone viral.”

Lovense’s toys also, of course, offer users other functions that are more traditional for teledildonic toys. The brand’s Max 2 and Nora toys include motion sensors that respond to each other's movements when connected via the Lovense Remote App.

“Lovense sextech toys and accompanying services provide people with a completely new experience of sexual interaction,” Hemington added. “Our solutions undoubtedly enrich sexual lives and emotional connections, as well as bring new sparks to the intimate play between partners. Moreover, our toys' key features include a pattern library (with some of the more popular having over 100,000 downloads), sound activation and many more useful and fun options that guarantee more involvement and open more dimensions in sexual play.”

Motorbunny’s Link Controller app also allows for long-distance control from a partner, however Craig Mewbourne, the company’s CMO, says that not every customer that uses it will use it for that function — ultimately, “it depends on how much they personally value giving themselves an orgasm versus someone else giving them an orgasm,” he said. Nevertheless, with additional features such as the ability to follow Siri voice commands, the app boosts the sex machine’s value, giving it the ability to go from no power to “‘all the way to 11,’” Mewbourne said.

“In any case, Link technology gives users choices beyond two manual knobs so they have greater control over how they want to ride, whether it's set-and-forget ‘Buzz’ and ‘Twirl’ pulses, or designing their own routines,” he said.

When it comes to the Lioness, co-founder Liz Klinger likens the complexity of the vibe’s hardware to an early smartphone — while its technological capabilities rival large equipment that’s used in specialized sex research labs, which can cost upwards of $1,000 per device and are limited only to researchers.

“Lioness makes these technological capabilities available to anyone in a sleek, portable product with a free accompanying app for just over $200,” Klinger said. “The benefits of having a technologically enabled product (when done well) can range from helpful, enlightening, to absolutely delightful. Lioness provides personalized, physiological information about yourself that is not possible to get anywhere else. Personalized guides, classes and research let users further their understanding of themselves and exploration for fun and pleasure.

“Our customers have reported using their own Lioness data to help figure out what causes penetrative sex to be more or less painful if they’ve been dealing with painful sex, discovering the severity of a concussion (through ‘shitty orgasms’) and then tracking their recovery (which became a case study presented at a nursing conference),” she added. “We’ve even had Von, a rising NYC pop star, launch her professional career by creating music from her own Lioness orgasm data.”

Through the new Lioness Sex Research Platform, users also can choose to contribute to cutting-edge scientific research by contributing real-world, physiological and subjective data to medical and academic researchers on a variety of topics — all through the app.

“We’ve found that users have enjoyed furthering their exploration of their own sexuality by participating in research made interactive by what the Lioness Vibrator and App offers,” Klinger said.

We-Vibe’s We-Connect toys build on the brand’s focus on couples through functions that can be enjoyed together whether both partners are in the same room or far away from each other.

“The app allows you to stay connected not only through the remote-control function, but also through the video and chat functions,” We-Vibe’s Emily Walsh said. “This helps people stay connected on a physical level, but emotionally as well. To give someone else control of the vibrations and intensity, there needs to be a level of trust, which contributes to this wonderful sense of intimacy.

“Beyond the remote-control, the app also delivers the opportunity to select exactly the right intensities and patterns of vibrations that work best for the customer, as well as being able to control single motors in our dual-motor products,” she added. “Customers can even create their own custom vibes! And toys like We-Vibe Chorus come with a squeeze remote that allows users to create an even more custom experience using one of the most intuitive human responses — the harder you squeeze the remote, the more intense the vibrations become.

Addressing Safety & Privacy Concerns

As with any internet-connected device, fears surrounding the security of teledildonics have cast a cloud on the innovative sextech trend. Hackers caused legitimate concern over the possibility of having your sex toy hacked and controlled by a stranger by exposing security flaws in some of the most popular teledildonic toys.

Another widely held concern surrounding teledildonics was the security of particularly private information that one’s sex toy was collecting and storing via its app. In one of the largest settlements involving a sex toy manufacturer, in 2017, Standard Innovation agreed to pay about $3.75 million to resolve a class action suit regarding privacy claims involving its some of its We-Vibe products. The company was prepared for a vigorous battle to defend itself in court, however ultimately chose to settle the case and focus on the designing and creating of its innovative products. The company also rapidly responded to concerns about its We-Connect app with increased privacy and security measures; and by providing customers more choice in the data they share, as well as by continuing to work with leading privacy and security experts to improve the app.

“Mozilla, the leading, non-profit organization that works to ensure an open and private internet, has endorsed We-Vibe products as meeting their strict security standards — giving We-Connect a 5 out of 5 rating — and RenderMan, creator of the Internet of Dongs project, has stated in numerous interviews that We-Connect is the most secure app in the industry,” We-Vibe’s Emily Walsh said. “While we’re proud of these accolades, our team of internal and external privacy and security experts are continually looking at ways to improve the privacy and security of the WeConnect app.”

Some of the precautions We-Vibe currently has in place include: No account registration, which means customers do not provide their name, email, phone number, or any other identifying information to use We-Connect. A PIN to secure access to We-Connect on customers' devices. Customers must opt-in if they'd like to share their anonymous app-use data through Google analytics to help We-Vibe improve its products — it is not shared automatically. The company also has implemented third-party security audit and testing to improve the app.

“We also always ensure that there are plain-language in-app messages that communicate our privacy practices in a way that is easy to understand,” Walsh added. “We want to ensure our customers are comfortable and well-informed about the ways we collect and use data before they choose to use the app.”

Similarly, Lovense is continually working to ensure that all of its platforms and products are secure. As part of its commitment, Lovense is among the active members of the Internet of Dongs, an initiative set up with the goal of protecting the security and privacy of people using connected and remote-controllable sex toys.

“We also participate in a private bug bounty program where white-hat hackers attempt to find security vulnerabilities in our website, apps and toys,” Lovense’s Robyn Hemington said. “When a hacker finds a security vulnerability, we give a monetary reward, and our team corrects the reported vulnerability. By participating in bug bounty programs, we increase the extent of security testing, and thus are able to make our toys and software more secure for all of our users.”

According to Hemington, Lovense aims to take a preventative approach, and has a number of initiatives underway. “We believe this is the best way to protect our customers, so your products are secure and the data and information are safe,” she said.

Satisfyer is eliminating security and privacy concerns by allowing users to remain completely anonymous. Those that want to use connected services can register for a free account with or without an email. According to Satisfyer’s Megwyn White the Satisfyer Connect app offers a “strong bonded feature to connect devices to accounts and eliminate the opportunity to hack into a user’s product — meaning our devices don’t just pair with your mobile device or Apple watch, but instead exchange encrypted security keys to ensure a trusted connection whenever you are using our connected Satisfyers. In short, no one else can track, exchange data, or take over your Bluetooth Satisfyer once they are bonded.”

To further ensure privacy, users have the option to use self-destructive chat messages — which minimizes the amount of data that Satisfyer is able to store.

“Additionally, if you ever want to end a relationship with another user you can block them and your digital correspondence (i.e. texts, images) will be automatically deleted from the server,” White said.

Motorbunny also is steering clear of collecting or sharing personalized data unless explicitly sent for bug reporting purposes by the app or when the user sets up their Motorbunny Link account, which is optional, but required for online sharing to function.

“All sharing functionality is anonymous and secure by design by using random secure tokenized URLs,” Motorbunny’s Craig Mewbourne said. “The URL recipient is completely anonymous and no account is needed to participate in remote-controlling a Motorbunny.”

Kiiroo has implemented industry standard security controls and encryption to safeguard all personal information from its customers. The company does not store any personally identifiable information and everything a user does on the app stays on their device only.

“When a customer deletes the app or data, we also remove the history,” Kiiroo’s Frank Kok said. “We also allow customers to use the app anonymously; [and] we have a clear security and privacy policy within the app.”

Lioness’ Liz Klinger advises manufacturers to follow basic security practices and avoid potential problems with consumers down the road.

“It seems simple, but you’d be surprised how often this isn’t followed in the adult industry (and the tech industry in general),” she said. “Collect only the data that you need, because collecting more data can be a company liability. Get explicit consent from your users. Be clear about what data you are using and how you’re using that data. Customers can make their own decisions on what they’re comfortable with and your business can build a better relationship with your customers by being honest and open with them.”

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

With the world in the grips of a global pandemic, social distancing is keeping people at home and away from their partners in some cases, while many singles are turning to cam performers to satisfy their sexual fantasies. In other words, the time is right for exploring teledildonics.

“The pandemic has definitely had an impact on interactive toy sales (in a positive way),” Kiiroo’s Frank Kok said. “Now that everyone is being quarantined worldwide, people who were in a relationship but not living together now find themselves in a ‘short-distance relationship’ unable to see one another as frequently as before. The same goes for those who were casually dating, they are no longer able to casually date because of the risks associated with not being socially distant. People are looking for a new way to connect, to feel, to touch without actually being together.”

According to Lovense’s Robyn Hemington, during the period from March to May, the company experienced its best-performing period in terms of sales revenue in the history of the company.

“Sales growth of Max 2 and Nora, which are the best option for long-distance relationships, increased by about 250 percent compared to the same period last year,” she said. “We continue to acquire new mainstream customers through our website and e-commerce channels in a number of countries. We see high growth rates from countries like Canada and Australia and U.S. and European demand remains very high.”

Lovense’s interactive toys allow partners that are quarantined in different locations the ability to stay intimate while maintaining a video, audio or text chat. Max 2 and Nora also include real-time motion sensors that respond to each other¹s movements.

“We expect that the need for sex tech will continue to grow as our world, post COVID-19, continues to change and adapt to the new norm and we will be ready with more advancements for the modern person,” Hemington added.

Similarly Motorbunny’s Craig Mewbourne says that sales during the pandemic have been so good that the company is having trouble keeping up with demand. Nevertheless, he attributes the popularity of interactive toys to people’s obsession with their phones.

“Smartphones completely transformed how people shop, eat, travel and consume entertainment,” he said. “Pretty much anything we do is negotiated on our screens. It was inevitable that people would demand that kind of flexibility and control in the bedroom as well.”

Lioness’ Liz Klinger agrees, noting that innovative technology that’s useful and executed well is also particularly useful in drawing new customers — including first-time sex toy shoppers.

“When used well, technology opens up new use cases for people to engage with their sexuality and pleasure,” Klinger said. “This trend has been on the upswing for a while. We’ve already been inundated with technology enhanced products in nearly every aspect of our lives, whether it’s Alexa for home automation, Apple Watch and Fitbits for health tracking, or Clue for period tracking, and devices for pretty much every single aspect of our lives. Technology and data to enhance our sex life fits into this trend we’ve been seeing over the last decade.”

Klinger also believes the pandemic can be attributed for giving people the opportunity to explore their sexual wellness more profoundly.

“The pandemic has been accelerating the trend for high-tech sex toys because people are looking for more new and novel experiences more since we’re mostly stuck at home now, but it’s because it was a trend that was already in motion since the first devices that offered more technological enhancements came into the market over a decade ago,” she added.

With time at home to improve various aspects of one’s life, more consumers are interested in bettering their orgasms; and app-controlled toys provide a wide range of options for doing so.

“It takes time to learn the nuances of each new experience that Motorbunny LINK offers, like syncing the ride to music or playing integrated games like FappyBunny,” Motorbunny’s Craig Mewbourne said. “Couples and individuals in quarantine who have owned a Motorbunny for years have told us that they have new favorite positions because they've actually had the time to hop on and experiment. And luckily for those who haven't pulled the trigger on Motorbunny ownership yet, FappyBunny (available to download for free) connects with other Bluetooth-enabled devices like the We-Vibe Sync, OhMiBod Esca 2 and Lovense Lush.”

Marketed as the first mobile game designed to interact directly with a pleasure device, FappyBunny works much like the popular game Flappy Bird, which is reportedly the most downloaded free mobile game in 2014. The game features FappyBunny navigating through a gauntlet of dangerous obstacles with the aid of users who can control the bunny by tapping the screen on their mobile device. The character’s altitude determines the intensity of a sex toy’s vibration, and when the FappyBunny character crashes, the toy briefly goes to its furthest intensity before scaling things back.

Other advanced capabilities of app-connected toys such as Satisfyer’s offer the ability to control a toy with ambient sound — which also provide couples with an opportunity to make their long-distance interaction even more memorable.

“Our ambient sound feature also invites couples to a new dimension of play through creating programs based on their vocalizations,” Satisfyer’s Megwyn White said. “Music integration is also a feature we feel couples will enjoy as a way to get into the mood by bridging the dynamics of sonic music soundscapes along with sexual wellness explorations.”

We-Vibe’s Emily Walsh says she’s seen the popularity of app-controlled toys steadily grow since the company unleashed its We-Connect app. She says that what manufacturers should now be focusing on is eliminating any possibilities for technical difficulties during sex.

“That’s why it’s so important to have a reliable connection for these toys to work effectively,” she said. “Bluetooth helps provide that connection which is why it’s become so popular. We-Vibe took it one step further with AnkorLink technology, which creates an even more stable connection than Bluetooth between the We-Vibe Chorus and the We-Connect app using the squeeze remote as the anchor so the signal doesn’t drop off in the heat of the moment. This kind of powerful connectivity is especially important during a pandemic when people are having to spend more time at home and may not be living with their partner. We-Vibe products provide a connection between partners no matter where they are, which is likely why online sales increased in the wake of COVID-19.”

And app-controlled toys also are popular for increasing the excitement between couples that are quarantining together. According to Svakom’s Alexandro Feynerol, there is no limit to the imagination when it comes to sex.

“Couples can and should always find out different ways to explore their limits,” he said. “They could use the toys while one is out buying groceries for example.”

COTR, Inc.’s Kimberly Scott Faubel also offers suggestions for cohabiting couples looking to spice up their at-home sex routines.

“Couples and partners who are quarantining together can still benefit from these features by creating a date-experience at home, playing from separate rooms, including a blindfold (like in the Cowgirl Erotica Set), and transforming the space into a new temporary playroom,” she said. “I think we can all relate to growing tired of being in the same place for as long as we have been and a fantasy-filled adventure can be the reason to transform your space, temporarily, and step outside the routines we often fall into.”

Also offering the suggestion of playing with We-Vibe toys during mundane tasks like grocery shopping, Emily Walsh recommends the company’s Bluetooth-enabled wearable vibes, Moxie and Jive.

“For couples quarantining together, the pandemic has introduced its own set of obstacles,” she said. “From the heightened tension that might arise from spending more time than usual together in a single space, to the added struggles many people are facing when it comes to child-care and work, it’s a stressful time. We-Vibe provides a respite from all that and a much-needed spark of fun and creativity for many couples. We-Vibe’s products give couples the flexibility to enjoy novelty and pleasure together as close or far apart as they want — whether it’s in bed, across a country, or simply being in two separate rooms in the house.”

The use of smart sex toy is also improving intimacy between partners by offering useful insight into their bodies and pleasure, which often leads to useful open conversations. Lioness’ Liz Klinger says that seeing information related to one’s sexual pleasure presented as objective, raw data can make it easier to talk about.

“Sometimes, seeing pleasure as ‘just a chart’ can help recontextualize pleasure from something that may have been difficult to discuss before to just another aspect of life, similar to other physiological functions that other devices track for exercise, sleep, etc.,” she said.

“We’ve found that couples enjoy experimenting with the Live View experience (seeing arousal/orgasm in real time), often combined with the local remote control. “Live View opens up new ways to try new experiences and as another visual indicator for the partner to see how their partner is reacting in the moment.”

Embracing Cams

The popularity of Bluetooth-enabled toys within the camming community is made evident with the visit to any cam site — “you will be inundated by the amount of purple and pink products sticking out of multiple performers body parts,” Kiiroo’s Frank Kok said. “I think that is a testament of how well the webcam industry is embracing interactive devices!”

The ability to offer tip-based, long-distance remote control of Bluetooth-enabled toys makes them highly useful for cam performers. Fans also get to see their money at work as their on-screen object of desire reacts to the vibrations sent to their toy. Kiiroo has played a key role in bridging the gap between the pleasure products industry and the camming industry, with partnerships with leading brands and innovative technology to maximize interactivity.

Essentially, webcam models are adding a new element to their shows, one where their customers can control their pleasure by sending tips to make the performer’s toys vibrate,” Kiiroo’s Frank Kok said. “Two of our products that we produced with our partner OhMiBod, the Esca2 and Fuse, have LED lights that get triggered by the tips. This visual element shows customers that their tips are actually making the toys vibrate which often entices them to tip more.”

Kiiroo works with webcam platforms to establish parameters for tipping, which can be different depending on each webcam platform you connect to though. Additionally, through two of Kiiroo’s webcam partners Flirt4Free and StripChat, Kiiroo also has implemented two-way connectivity allowing a webcam performer to connect to a user's device and control their pleasure one-on-one.

According to Kok, the Ohmibod Esca2 Powered by Kiiroo is considered the company’s bestselling toy among the camming community — perhaps because it was designed based on conversations with webcam performers from a range of different platforms.

“It is an egg-shaped internal vibe with an illuminating LED light that changes intensity based on vibration strength,” Kok said. “Two of its other features that appeal to webcam the most is that you can change the vibration intensity from 100 percent to 50 percent and you can turn off the LED light if you are looking for more discreet play.”

We-Vibe toys also have implemented Kiiroo’s Feel Technology and the Feel Connect/Feel Performer app to connect webcam performers and their fans.

“While visual stimulation is important in the camming industry, our We-Connect toys allow performers to extend control privileges to their clients, which adds a whole new level to the experience,” We-Vibe’s Emily Walsh said. “It allows the performer and their client to feel sensations together in real-time, as the client can ‘sync’ up to the performer’s device, so they create a more intimate, real experience — like a sense of being able to feel what the other person is feeling.”

Many We-Vibe products connect with popular camming platforms such as Streamate, Cam4, Flirt4Free and more. According to Walsh, the company has more ideas in development to benefit cam performers.

“Our top toy in the cam market is We-Vibe Jive — a wearable toy that provides internal hands-free G-spot-area stimulation, followed closely by our We-Vibe Sync vibrator,” Walsh said. “Although Sync is marketed primarily as a couples vibrator, it provides both clitoral and internal stimulation and can be equally enjoyed solo. Chorus is the next-generation option that will be great for the industry as it adds more color and stimulation options to explore.”

Lovense toys also are cam performer favorites that can be used for tip-based on-screen action. According to Lovense’s Robyn Hemington, the company has also implemented the SmartCam and OBS toolset to help models list their top tippers. She says that an online dice game and Keno game also help models interact with tippers.

“Lush 2, our most popular wearable toy, first won the hearts of cam models, and later became our bestseller in the mainstream market thanks to its performance, functionality and accompanying software,” she said.

Sexual Wellness for the Win

By widening the potential for pleasurable sexual experiences — particularly in the era of social distancing — app compatible toys make it easier for consumers to enjoy the health benefits of sex.

“Lioness lives and breathes this,” company co-founder Liz Klinger said. “People have used Lioness to shed some light on personal sex issues including (but not limited to) painful sex, less pleasurable sex, and questions about orgasm. We’ve seen people increasingly use Lioness in experimental ways to further investigate their health and wellbeing. Some of our customers have used Lioness to measure how much a new medication might be affecting their sex drive (e.g. an anti-depressant, birth control, or other hormone replacement therapy) and use this information to ask their doctors if there are alternative drugs they might consider if something has affected them a lot and they have data to back up their suspicions.”

The Lioness vibe may not be able to be controlled remotely, nevertheless tech capabilities like Lioness’ empower users (people with vaginas) with information about their bodies, plus allows them to contribute to physiological research that is often considered too risqué to be studied by many university institutional review boards (IRBs).

“By offering a platform that can allow users to share real-world (outside of a lab), physiological data on orgasm that did not previously exist, Lioness is hoping to make it easier, faster and less expensive for some of this much-needed research to happen,” Klinger said. “We’re excited to be able to offer the ability to shed some light on these things for people, and to bring our technological capabilities to researchers who can explore these topics in ways that were nearly impossible to do before.”

Lioness is furthering this initiative with the launch of the Lioness Sex Research Platform, which is intended to serve as a way for researchers to use real, physiological and subjective sexual function data in their own research. The data is contributed by users who opt in and are interested in participating and contributing to research.

“It’s the first time research can use physiological data outside of a lab and on a large scale — from thousands of users around the world,” Klinger said. “Users can contribute to groundbreaking research and maybe learn a thing or two about themselves!”

In the midst of a global pandemic that’s keeping people socially distanced, the latest sextech innovations are helping to keep intimacy thriving despite the lack of physical touch; and with convenient apps that put a whole new world of pleasurable possibilities at the user’s fingertips, consumers are swiping their way into sexual self-exploration.

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