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Racy invention to make you rich

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Now a global retailer of lingerie and sex toys is giving you the chance to leave your mark on the future of sex, and make a chunk of cash doing so.

British retailer Lovehoney is looking for the products that will be pleasuring us in 2030 and beyond, with an international search for the next hit sex toy.

Everyone from student to professional designers, as well as your average run-of-the-mill sexual deviant, are encouraged to put forth their designs for the sex toys of the future across three categories.

It’s the first time the competition will have special categories for student designers and the public, but it's not the first time the British retailer has conducted the search.
At the start of the decade, a similar competition saw Irish inventor Trevor Murphy take out the top honour, after judges were blown away by his oral sex simulator the Sqweel.

Mr Murphy said winning the competition has been life changing.

[IMAGE]

The Sqweel toy, a previous winner of the design competition, has made its designer hundreds of thousands of dollars.Source:Supplied

“I made so much money that I was able to emigrate and start a new career in television, winning the competition completely changed my life.”

But while the rotating wheel of artificial “tongues” designed by Mr Murphy has brought him more than $600,000 in royalties, he said the rewards go far beyond the financial.

“I am so happy that I have brought so much sexual happiness to so many people,” he said.

According to Lovehoney, the Sqweel is the highest selling oral sex simulator, and has gone through four iterations since Mr Murphy’s original design, including the portable Sqweel Go.

Other past winners include the UPRIZE bionic dildo, the GLUVR finger-worn vibrator, and BlowYo stroker.

Lovehoney now hopes working with the public again can lead to similar success.

“If we get a design which brings something completely new to the market there is no reason why the designer cannot enjoy the same kind of payday as previous winners,” Lovehoney product director and judge Bonny Hall said.

“You don’t just need to be an engineer or a professional designer to enter – all you need is a great idea and a rough sketch so that our team can make your sex toy a reality.”

Can we be replaced by sex robots?

[IMAGE]

Sexologist, Dr. Nikki Goldstein chats to Harmony, a lifelike sex robot created to fulfil men's fantasies.

The three categories each offer $5,000 for the eventual winner, along with eventual royalties, with entrants to be judged by the Lovehoney design team as well as Melbourne-born host of the Future Of Sex podcast Bryony Cole, one of the world’s leading experts on SexTech.

While “sex toys” can be quite primal pieces of technology, Ms Cole said a successful design is about “sexuality, not just sex”.

“The umbrella of sexuality is vast, it incorporates health, education, entertainment and gender identity. In the same way, technology has multiple categories, from virtual reality, AI, robotics, apps and gaming. Innovations in technology will keep expanding the categories we can apply sextech to,” Ms Cole told news.com.au.

Some examples include remote-control sex toys designed to be used with a long-distance partner, as well as Japan’s Gatebox, a “digital companion” designed to keep you company and provide emotional support like a Black Mirrorversion of the Spike Jonze movie Her, but aimed at supporting Japan’s socially reclusive hikikomori or “herbivore men” who show no interest in finding a partner or even having sex.

While sextech is still an emerging field, the technology behind it is advancing rapidly, and unlike many areas of technology, women are establishing themselves at the forefront of it.

Of course this doesn’t mean they’ve been spared many of the same sexist overtones that have plagued the tech sector at large for the past several decades.

The Consumer Electronics Show, an annual technology exhibition in Las Vegas, recently came under fire for awarding, and then rescinding an award it gave to a women-led sextech company.

Lora DiCarlo’s Osé Robotic Massager was awarded an Innovation Award in the robotics and drones category. The award was then stripped and the company was banned from exhibiting at the show.

The Consumer Technology Association, who run the show, later returned the award and overhauled its policies around sextech.

Ms Cole said the women in the industry are now helping “change the narrative around female sexuality and empowerment”, which has even led to the rise of a new term to describe the new products catering specifically to women: “vaginanomics”.

“It’s for this reason sextech is revolutionary. Sextech influences the very fabric of society and challenges not only our experience of sexuality but our humanness and ideas about what is “normal”,” Ms Cole said.

[IMAGE]

Bryony Cole is a leading authority on sextech and one of the judges of the competition. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

“What most people know of sextech is often limited by these two tropes: sexbots and virtual girlfriends. This is because for decades Hollywood science-fiction has repeatedly revolved around this concept of the ultimate tech-replacing-humans fantasy,” Ms Cole said.

“Today, these clickbait headlines have perpetuated the idea that sextech is only about orgasm. And while innovations around our orgasms are important and fascinating conversations in their own right, sextech’s untapped potential lies far beyond the stories of robot girlfriends.”

Sextech for men is also receiving attention, as are products designed for people who don’t identify as either gender.

Ms Cole said the partial and ongoing democratisation of technology, better accessibility to resources for bootstrapping entrepreneurs, and growing community support are all key contributors to the growth of sextech in recent years, as well as the normalisation of conversations around sex, pleasure and wellness.

“The growth of the sextech industry has influenced culturally how we talk about sex, by marketing products in a way that speaks naturally and permissively about sexuality, diversity and inclusivity, it gives people permission to not only purchase the products but have a conversation around them with people that may not usually, which funnily enough, is often the people they are having sex with.”

Inside Sexpo 2018

[IMAGE]

Adult entertainers, sex robots and intercontinental orgasms. We take an inside look into this year's Sexpo.

Ms Cole added the rest of the tech industry could learn a lot from some of the ways sextech has advanced, particularly when it comes to the people it designs its products for.

“Sextech simply cannot ignore the demands of all bodies; business wise sextech would leave a large part of the market behind if it were to only design for one body type. I see a lot of sextech companies making earnest efforts to incorporate diversity and inclusivity in everything from the corporate teams to the marketing to the user research. The wider technology industry could really benefit from looking at the way sextech embeds diversity into the industry infrastructure.”

While Ms Cole can’t speak for the rest of the judges, she does know what she’s looking for in a winning design.

“Personally, I take an interest in how technology is incorporated into a design. My advice to entrants as a judge is design for yourself first. It’s important to make sure you are working on something you would buy – and love.

Ms Cole advises budding designers that “you are your best user research”, so while you’re hard at work coming up with the sex toy of the future, you can take some comfort knowing even if you don’t win you should have a lot of fun in the design process.

The competition will be open for entry via the Lovehoney website until February 2020.

Have you come up with any good sex toy ideas? Let us know in the comments below, but don’t give away too many details or it might cost you (and potentially even us).


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