During lockdown periods, consumer spend on sextech devices increased to simulate intimacy, without breaching social distancing measures. As a result, a new study from Juniper Research has found that there will be over 36 million connected sextech devices in use in 2020; rising from 19 million in 2019 and representing a growth of 87%.
Unlike traditional, battery-operated sextech devices, connected sextech devices are compatible with smartphone devices; enabling the user to have greater control of them via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
An example of connected sextech devices are intimate companion robots: essentially sex dolls featuring AI technology that allows them to interact with the end user and adapt to usage patterns. Intimate companion robots contain sensors that make them respond to touch, and their machine learning capabilities allow them to ask the end user questions, and remember the answers for future conversations; offering companionship as well as sexual pleasure. They are increasingly being used as an alternative to sex workers, with sex doll brothels appearing in Turin, Moscow, Barcelona, etc. This new trend, seen by many as a way to reduce human trafficking, has also attracted controversy, with critics claiming that it reinforces female objectification and encourages violent behaviours towards women, after being enacted on dolls.
But dolls are not the only sextech devices experiencing an upgrade via AI integration. New smart sextech devices tailored to men include Autoblow AI, a machine simulating the sensation of oral sex, and vibrators enabling hands-free masturbation.
However, changes in attitude and the popularity of concepts such as sexual wellness have brought long-term demand for kegel exercisers, vibrators, and other devices gathered towards female pleasure, as women become more confident in improving their sexual experiences via sextech devices. The popular topic of gender neutrality has also influenced the sextech industry. Gender-neutral sextech devices, stimulating all the body’s erogenous zones, rather than only focusing on the genitals, are forecast to become increasingly popular both with millennials and Gen Z.
Still, despite increasing public demand, the sextech industry is experiencing renewed difficulties to secure financial investments, as products are often classified as ‘adult’ rather than being categorised within well-being. This identification comes with a stigma of its own, causing investments in this area to be considered taboo. This, along with difficulties advertising for products online and offline, means that sextech companies often have to resort to crowdfunding websites to finance new projects.
Our latest whitepaper, Let’s Talk About Sextech, highlights the impact of lockdown measures on connected sextech devices, as well as analysing technological innovations in the market and discussing industry challenges.
Download our Whitepaper: Let’s Talk About Sextech
Related Research: Sextech & Sexual Wellness