From app-controlled vibrators to bionic strap-ons: The crowd-funded sex toy revolution

The vibrators of the future can't rely on traditional investors, so they're turning to you VIDEO

Topics: Video, Sex, Sex toys, male sex toys, Editor's Picks, Crowdfunding, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Ambrosia Vibe,

From app-controlled vibrators to bionic strap-ons: The crowd-funded sex toy revolutionThe Limon (Credit: Indiegogo/Minna)

For a snapshot of the current state of sex toy innovation, look no further than the Ambrosia Vibe. It’s the world’s first bionic strap-on, meaning it vibrates in response to touch. It’s an exciting, revolutionary development — but it isn’t thanks to angel investors or venture capitalists. It’s customers who are making it happen through a crowd-funding campaign.

Despite the more than $15 billion sex toy industry, investors are scared to touch sex toys. ”Developing hardware requires a lot of capital — but traditional sources of funding … aren’t always enthusiastic about investing in products related to sex,” says Lux Alptraum, a sex writer who consulted on the Ambrosia Vibe. “Crowdfunding allows sex toy developers to get the money they need to go into production by connecting with the very audience who benefits from their work.”

Thing is, Kickstarter is scared of sex toys, too. That’s why companies have had to look to sex-friendly crowd-funding sites. The Ambrosia Vibe has raised $18,814 so far on Indiegogo and has 31 days left to reach its $32,000 goal. If its predecessors are any indication, its chances are good.

In 2012, Vibease’s campaign to make an app-controlled vibrator was denied by Kickstarter, so the makers turned to Indiegogo, where they raised $100,000 beyond their initial goal. The year before, Crave Innovations’ plan for a sleek vibrator that doubled as a flash drive was rejected by Kickstarter — or, as the company’s designers put it in an interview with Cosmopolitan.com, ”They kicked us off, saying they don’t support vibrators!” So they launched a crowd-funding campaign on CKIE with an aim of netting $15,000 in six weeks. In the end, they raised more than $100,000.

You Might Also Like

Just recently, the Autoblow 2 (see the video below) set out on Indiegogo with a goal of $45,000 to make “the world’s most realistic robotic oral sex simulator.” They raised a whopping $280,247. Two hundred and eighty thousand dollars. 

Then there’s the OhMiBod, a remote-controlled vibrator that allows you to “pleasure your partner from anywhere, any time”; the Minna Limon, a vibe created by “Stanford-trained mechatronics engineers”; and the Revel Body, the “first sonic vibrator,” which is quieter and more powerful than what you’re used to. All crowd-funded, all within the last two years.

It’s a weird time that we live in. As I wrote in 2011, “Cheap varieties [of vibrators] are available everywhere from 7-11 to CVS; sleek gadgets are sold in well-lit shops like Babeland; and those looking to drop a couple G’s on a diamond-encrusted, gold-plated number can head to luxury suppliers like Coco de Mer.” Since then the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon introduced scores of Americans to whips, handcuffs and kegel balls. Sex toys are more mainstream than ever — so much so that their makers can ask for funds directly from customers and manage to raise more than three times their goal — but traditional investors are still timid. That said, after Crave raised more than $100K through crowd-funding, the company was able to raise $2.4 million from Angel investors.

For the most part, though, crowd-funding sites are where you’ll find sex toy makers who are brave enough to listen to what customers really want. As Doctor X. Treme, the physicist behind the Ambrosia Vibe, tells me, “I kept hearing that people want this, and responded to demand,” he said. “People already use strap-on dildos as a body extension, not just as a sex toy. ‘Giving head’ to a strap on is a popular activity already, even without feedback. Why? Because people enjoy extending their bodies beyond what they were born with, just as we build airplanes to give ourselves wings or SCUBA tanks to give ourselves gills.”

All of which is to say, the future of sex is here — and it’s being crowd-funded.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...