Heavy Chef invited Heidi Patmore, a tech marketing consultant to speak at one of their events on Tuesday, 28 August. Patmore who specialises in tech that is changing consumer behaviour, like cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence self-driving cars, drones and fintech, spoke about an incendiary topic: sextech, and how it is irrevocably impacting our lives.
Heidi Patmore, a tech marketing consultant up on the Heavy Chef stage. Image supplied by Heavy Chef.
For the past three decades, sex has been a significant driving force behind technology. Some of the biggest leaps on the world wide web have partly come from the sex industry: video streaming, e-commerce, cloud hosting, webcams and file compression.
But Patmore says that people have been interested in documenting sex and finding creative ways to increase their love life and making it better for hundreds of years, whether it was papyrus, sculptures or pornography on a rock. Even The Kamasutra is over 2000 years old now and that actually started out as a life guide and not a sex guide. In 2010, archaeologists in Germany found the world's first dildo in a German cave. It was 28,000 years old. Even Cleopatra used a hollow gourd, filled with live bees as a vibrator.
So sextech has been around for a while and with the proliferation now of new technology in the modern age, things are rapidly evolving. Patmore says the device that currently has the biggest impact on sex tech is smartphones, because now, in the comfort of your own home, without anyone able to see, you can browse any website. You can watch porn and you can shop for just about anything. You can go on dating apps and you join any exclusive groups that you like.
Make love, not porn
Patmore says when she first started researching this phenomenon, it appeared on her Twitter feed from a person called, Cindy Gallop who is a veteran in the ad industry which does a lot of campaigning around getting the number of women creatives up past 3%, which it currently is at. But Gallop’s side hustle is a project called MakeLoveNotPorn and this was born out of her own personal experiences, where she used to date younger men. At the time of her life when she had been dating, from her 20s to her 50s, she noticed that the way that men were in the bedroom has changed quite drastically. And that modern men pretty much get all their sex education from porn, which doesn't necessarily work in the real world.
So she started the website, which is crowdsourced, where anyone can go on and video themselves having sex with their partner in the interest of education. Sex toy manufacturers have also start crowdsourcing different things based on consumer feedback, which they have never been able to do before. As a result, some new interesting toys were produced.
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Patmore proceeded to show us a website called Teledildonics and explained that it is actually for people who are in long distance relationships. Essentially one partner has the toy, which would be a vibrator or a dildo, which is then connected via the internet and then the other partner has a smartphone that controls it. This sounds like a really good idea, except that the company was sued last year by users because it turned out that it was tracking every single thing that people were doing. So they knew who was using it, with who they were using it, where it was geo-located and also how frequently it was used. So they got sued and the consumers won the case.
Another key point that was discussed while Patmore talked about Teledildonics is that because you are connected to the internet, your dildo could potentially get hacked. And this raises a series of questions. There are even internet-connected vibrators that are linked to the price of bitcoin. So the vibrator's intensity increases with the real-time price of bitcoin.
Patmore also showed us three smart condoms.
The first one was the I.con, which is essentially a Fitbit for your manparts. It uses nano-chips and sensors to measure your girth during intercourse and can measure average velocity and total thrusts.
The second one was the Lelo Hex, where the hexagonal shapes in the plastic of the condom distribute body heat more evenly. So, it basically causes you to not feel it at all.
Then these 14-year olds from the UK (below) developed a condom that changes colour if you have an STD called the S.T.Eye. They figured out that based on the bacteria that is picked up, it will change blue for Chlamydia, red for Syphilis and some of them up depending on what bacteria/disease it picks up.
New version of blowup dolls
Patmore says she also wanted to give us a look at the new toys and new tech, because this is is where it really gets interesting. She showed us what she called the new version of the blowup doll. And told us that up to six companies around the world are currently making life-size, hyper-realistic, plastic silicone dolls to have sex with.
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"They make pretty much anything you can think of and you can customise it to the point that you can have a different lip colour, hair colour, eye colour, nails, genitals, anything you can think of. So you can essentially create your very own, personal plastic girlfriend. They cater for just about any fetish and they cost about US$2000."
These blowup dolls have become so popular that brothels have opened up in the UK and Europe where you can now go to the establishment and spend £100 an hour to spend time with a plastic doll. It’s believed to be fully booked on Friday nights and you can even pay extra if you want the schoolgirl version or the fitness version, etc. The fact is, they wouldn't be making this sort of thing if there wasn't a demand for it, says Patmore.
Check back for part 2 of this article where chatbots, sex robots and the social impact of sextech on society will be explored. To be published next week.
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