What a difference a month makes. While we all navigate the New-New Normal, some serious implications for our world are weighing on many people’s minds. One topic coming up more and more includes sex and love in a pandemic-rattled world. What are the solutions to their needs, and how will consumer sentiment or buying patterns change? What are likely new behaviors that Sex Tech will need to be aware of?
Brand new patents have just been granted to Intimuse, which will enable a whole new generation of technology for interactive sex solutions. We are now licensing these patents for new biomimetic products. In the context of our new reality, we consider the potential that this has for the changing nature of intimacy.
While we adapt (at least temporarily) to confinement across entire states, some parts of our economy will need to ramp up their efforts, while some will need to rethink their business model. Clearly, airlines, hospitality, sports, tradeshows and live entertainment are set to struggle for a while, yet Netflix, Amazon, Zoom, UPS/FedEx/USPS and Pornhub will probably do just fine.
But when it comes to people’s relationships, what is to become of dating apps, couples in dating relationships, or those separated by health status or physical distance? Beyond the current conditions, InterActive Corporation’s Match Group (MTCH), which owns several of the biggest brands in online dating has seen some notable volatility in it's stock price - which way will this market push existing players?
And does anyone really believe this will be the last such experience? Beyond the immediate medical reality we are experiencing, there is a psychological element: who is healthy or not, who has taken any vaccine or not, what mutations might exist or are coming? Such emotional and mental concerns could keep people out of full circulation for years, unfortunately. We may 'progress' from Social Distancing to Social Caution, still keeping our physical distance despite any positive developments for a cure or vaccine. It would be great if this whole circumstance blows over 100% and quickly, but such optimism may be premature.
For a shining light of good news, let’s consider that our physical infrastructure seems to be working pretty well (as we hope happens with our human resources, the stressed-out hospitals and truly heroic nurses, doctors and healthcare workers). The Internet, power grid, connected devices, WiFi, broadband and payment systems mostly seem to be working pretty well, except for some high-volume stresses that boosting capacity will likely solve quickly. This extraordinary infrastructure worldwide is years in the making and a source of constant optimization, regardless of one’s opinion of 5G.
So here we are: social distancing driven by ongoing contagion issues, modern connectivity and a highly sexualized culture are on a collision course. The ensuing tension will create new demands that entrepreneurs and their investors will need to recognize.
For the last few years, connected sex toys formed a promising but unfulfilled niche in the adult novelty market, but high-quality products in this area for people of any gender identification or sexual persuasion make more sense now than they ever have. And there are some interactive products in the marketplace, so go ahead and try one. But prepare to be disappointed - almost everything we have seen is clunky, awkward, boring/unfulfilling, hard to use, unreliable or poorly made. Lots of announcements are made, but no one seems to execute with substance, as even some senior executives in the adult novelty industry agree privately.
None of these products have substantial, fresh patents / intellectual property either. From our perspective, a U.S. company with issued, substantial IP and sophisticated, easily manufacturable designs is ready for explosive growth. Intimuse believes that our freshly issued patents will help lead the way in creating new ways to meet our most fundamental human needs.
Beyond the immediate panic and fear, consumers will likely settle into their new beliefs and behavior patterns. But with social distance or contagion concern as general tensions arising in society, and with human desire a completely natural part of our behavior, these conflicting trends will push against each other with greater and greater force to produce a pain point in the marketplace.
For a while, vibrators, masturbator sleeves for men, porn and camming may suffice, but if Twitter, news reports and anecdotal evidence are to be believed, people are already getting bored and frustrated. Biomimetic devices faithfully reproduce biological systems, such as artificial muscle. We have the only IP in this field that replicates human sexual dynamics and forces over the Internet. And most importantly, it is quiet, so the experience is compelling. This will become the new preferred category.
So here is a question for investors in Silicon Valley, adult novelty makers in the San Fernando Valley and visionary angels everywhere in between: are you going to be part of the new solution to social distance or remain stuck and scared in your office or living room? Do you have the courage to help build the true next phase of human sexual evolution and unity?
John McCoy is the co-founder and CEO of Intimuse, a SexTech product development company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find him at firstname.lastname@example.org