Sex and Tech
Digital technology has long been integrating itself ever further into our lives from kitchen appliances and personal computers to smartphones and mobile apps. Every facet of our existence is now touched in some way by it, whether we’re talking education, healthcare, finances, or our social lives. Perhaps the most fascinating, or at least titillating, area in which these technologies are evolving is into our sex lives. Let’s take a look at all the ways in which tech is creeping into our bedrooms, boudoirs, and beyond.
According to a recent study by the Kinsey Institute, over 10% of Americans have used an app such as Tinder, Grindr, or OkCupid to find one night stands, and slightly more have utilized one for flirty chatting and/or sexting. It appears as though the majority of sexy chatting still happens the “old-fashioned” way, through SMS, and the percentage of respondents who admit to having sexted jumped to 67% up from 21%, when a similar survey was conducted just five years ago.
There are now enough apps for enabling sex without strings, that it’s not uncommon to find lists of the top 25 of them, at any given time. Still, significantly more people use these and similar apps to find dating partners, both short-term and long-term, than just sexual partners, although the latter number is climbing. Least popular of all is the “friends with benefits” category, seeming to signal that users want ”either commitment or spontaneity, but not…regular sex with no romantic connection”, as surmised by Amanda Gesselman, a Kinsey Institute research scientist.
Sex Toys Sorted by Smarts
The most obvious place in which technology has inserted itself in our intimate moments is in the sex toy industry. Once limited to a few models advertised surreptitiously as other appliances, today’s sex toy shopper can easily be overwhelmed by the profusion of shapes, sizes, colors, materials, functions and other bells and whistles available in today’s wide open market. Vibrators, dildos, male masturbators, anal beads and plugs available in glass, plastic, silicone, wood, crystal; it’s truly dizzying what’s just a mouse click away.
And now, to truly tap into the technological revolution, we have sex toys that can be operated via apps on your mobile phone and couple’s devices that can pair remotely to provide shared amorous experiences over long distances. PornHub now even has a video category for clips that sync up with these devices, to make getting off to porn feel less like solo sex than ever before.
A Virtual Pornucopia
As the delightfully blunt Trekkie Monster declares in the hit Broadway show Avenue Q, the Internet is for porn. Since the explosion of free online porn in early 2000s, essentially any type of porn imaginable, and some likely never before thought up, became accessible to virtually any computer user with an Internet connection and a need to get off. While this has had a deleterious effect on the porn industry, it has also spurred some creative advances to try and get users to pay for premium products, such as porn involving teledildonics, VR, and even scent enhancements.
18% of the respondents in the Kinsey Institute survey admitted to using an app to learn more about sex, with both the sexually experienced and inexperienced being almostly evenly likely to do so. Between sex bloggers, vloggers, online information campaigns such as SexEd Library and Sex, Etc., and sexual education apps like Juicebox and Maven, there has never been more accessible, non-judgment based information about sexual health and practices available to the public. Even PornHub has gotten into the game with a free site dedicated to providing users with quality sexual research and facts. PornHub’s Sexual Wellness Center is one of the only online resources where all contributors are qualified medical experts.
What else does the near future hold for the fascinating field of sex tech? Therapeutic sexbots? Massively multiplayer online sex games? How about a sex holodeck? None of these are as far off as you might think. Things are going to get pretty exciting in the next few years, and we can’t wait to get (off) there.
Sadie Slutshine is an inveterate nerd with a passion for reading, writing, learning, and sharing about sex and sexuality. When not nose deep in a book (or lengthy article) or clacking away on her keyboard, she can be found creating and consuming art, getting into long discussions with friends, gardening, cooking, hiking, or enjoying a good fuck.