WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Suki and Brian Dunham, founders of sexual health and lifestyle innovator OhMiBod, delivered a thought provoking and personal keynote presentation about the tech-driven evolution of intimacy.
The sex tech power couple used their 30-year marriage as an example of how intimate relationships have changed over the years. Brian and Suki met in college, and he began pursuing her. “I looked her up in an actual physical phone book,” Brian said. After making a $10 bet with a friend, Brian only had a few weeks to score with Suki. One night after a party on a snowy night, Brian located Suki’s apartment by going door to door to find her listing. After weeks of getting to know one another, they had their first kiss.
“It took me so long to have that intimate moment with Suki,” Brian said. “That night I had my first kiss with the woman who would become my partner in life and business.
“It was a physical experience, the whole process was laborious. Today, how are people meeting? How would that process be like today? It would take 30 seconds to find someone on Tinder and then three to five more minutes to call an Uber and get over there. It took me hours and now today it could take minutes. Breaking the ice and making conversation has gotten so much easier.”
Taking the Uber to get to a partner isn’t even required for intimacy because much of seducing is done virtually, Brian said. “Kids these days probably have their first intimate moment on SnapChat or text or whatever her communication du jour was at the time. It really opens up how we approach making products by analyzing this intimacy paradigm shift. Touch will never be replaced by the concept of intimacy is changing.”
“We see this shift in intimacy so how do we use this to create products? We need to adopt these technologies,” Brian said.
Brian noted how communication has evolved with social media. “It seems like every week there is a new way to communicate with their friends,” Brian said. “And that’s what the kids want today — they don’t want to pick up the phone and have verbal communication.”
“It’s phenomenal to see this transition happening for us. It’s imperative that we keep up with the advancements in technology but maintain the user experience. We can’t afford to innovate just for innovation’s sake. There has to be a problem that we’re making a solution for not the other way around.
The Dunhams also discussed the history of their brand. The concept for OhMiBod originated in 2004 when Suki’s husband Brian bought her a Christmas present that consisted of a new iPod along with a new vibrator.
“The music on the iPod and my vibe was how I would transition from mom mode to a sexier place,” Suki. “When I told Brian about it we didn’t know anything about this industry. So we did our research and made prototypes.”
They took their prototypes to CES and met a Wired magazine reporter who wrote about OhMiBod. “Once Wired wrote about us was when OhMiBod went from being a concept to a reality. It really showed us how meeting the right person at the right time can really change your business.”
According to Suki, 10 years ago when OhMiBod had just launched, there was a wave of boutique brands like We-Vibe and Njoy that were also just starting in the biz. “Of course now there are several great new boutique brands launching all of the time,” she said.
Suki also took a moment to acknowledge the industry’s pioneering brands like CalExotics and Doc Johnson. “They’ve been here for years and really paved the way so that people like Brian and I can do what we do today. We acknowledge that these are the people that have fought for our free speech and took on zoning boards and puritanical mindsets. They even went to jail for pushing the cultural boundaries.
“When you enter an industry that you’re not familiar with, I think it’s important to acknowledge the people that were there before you.”
Suki spoke about marketing trends and how they need to evolve to better serve adult companies. Currently, they are “hobbling,” she said, noting how Facebook doesn’t allow adult brands to advertise or even boost posts, and TV commercials also are limited.
“There is an inherent hypocrisy because we see Viagra commercials on prime time all day long,” she said. “God forbid that we see a female friendly commercial promoting sexual wellbeing.”
“I think it will change — maybe not right now but I think it will get better,” she said. Even though we face these challenges we are optimistic about the future.”
To confront the limitations of mainstream, OhMiBod has turned to viral videos. The Dunhams shared one of them with attendees. Titled “Declutter,” the video featured a woman parting with some of her belongings who stops in her tracks when she comes across her OhMiBod vibe because “pleasure is essential.”
With tech being their focus, Brian and Suki also discussed the important of timing and pricing, noting that while new technology evolves at a rapid pace, it takes time to become accessible to consumers.
“Technology is changing at a rapid pace — probably the most rapid it’s ever been throughout all of humanity,” Brian said. The rapid evolution of technology has led to the development of products that could be considered unnecessary.
“There are so many technologies that were made in search of a problem. They want to find a problem based on a technology that people are making.”
Among Suki and Brian’s predictions for the future are the arrival of sex robots “a la ‘Westworld,’” and the integration of nano materials. “With sex toy designs, you just have to let your mind run wild. We think it will become like the fashion industry where new products will be introduced each season.”
The Dunhams encouraged attendees to embrace technology and take advantage of it, and to build partnerships in order to let others augment one’s products.