Sex tech companies embrace erotic functionality and style with intimate accessories.
Elegant and refined, alluring and tantalizing, they catch your eye from across the room: shiny accessories that reflect and enhance the dazzling lights of the party.
But these aren’t just finely-made items of jewelry. No siree, for these rings, necklaces, and earrings have another, even more stimulating, side to them: one that reveals they are not just sexy in appearance, but in function as well.
Welcome to the world of sex tech as designer jewelry!
The exciting possibility of these items is that they are part of a movement toward widespread female empowerment and sexual liberation.
Form and function
While it’s not discussed perhaps as often as the materials, electronics, manufacturing, software-integration, or hardware, design is a major factor shaping the current generation of sex tech devices.
More precisely, developers have begun to create intimate devices that don’t always look like a disembodied piece of human anatomy.
We’ve covered several of these innovative changes to what has otherwise been the status quo in sex tech design, such as the playful critters of Cute Little F*ckers or the eco-friendly vibrators from Gaia.
Enter Unbound, a female-focused sex tech startup that offers beautifully crafted and stylish wearable sex toys.
Talking to Ozy, the founder of Unbound, Polly Rodriguez, said the motivation to create her line erotic jewelry was to take the frequent obviousness and thus embarrassment, out of the equation.
People want to wear something that puts the power in their hands on whether to disclose its secondary use. It wasn’t that much about pushing people to go down the street yelling, ‘Oh, my God, this is a vibrator!’” It was about designing something that stood alone as a ring so that decision is in the hands of the wearer.
Placing personal power in the wearer is very clear in the designs. Unless you knew the intimate mechanisms behind the accessories, most people would just see them as attractive pieces of jewelry.
Some, for example, mix style with BDSM, being able to transform at a moment’s notice, from attractive accessories to restraints, a golden whip, or even a pair of nipple clamps.
Meanwhile, Palma—while it looks like an attractive ring—can also become a powerful and versatile personal vibrator.
“This fashion-forward wearable features three speeds and two customizable modes that allow you to control the variation in vibration with your own hand movements,” says the product page.
This double-duty of pleasure and elegance has another function.
“What we found is that when people wear it out, in general, they want to share and talk about it. It makes the conversation about pleasure much easier to have,” Rodriguez added.
She explains that her designs are all about comfort.
By wearing something that doesn’t yell at the top of its silicone lungs “I’M A SEXTOY” it makes some women feel more at ease: allowing them to control the dialogue about the toy, and how they feel and perhaps even enjoy it.
The Vesper from Crave
But Unbound isn’t the only company that sees the potential in joining solid erotic functionality with a refined demeanor.
Crave, another sex toy designer and manufacturer, has the Vesper: an ultra-slim vibrator that can be worn as a silver, gold, or rose-gold pendant.
Costing $69, the Vesper offers a lot in its narrow packaging, including two different settings, constant or pulse, and a 40-minute runtime.
TI Chang, Vesper’s chief designer explained in the same article that her motivation, like with Unbound’s creations, was all about opening up communication:
In talking to people, talking to women, there was an overwhelming desire: People wanted to talk about pleasure and talk about sex—these taboo topics—without shame. What we found is that when people wear it out, in general, they want to share and talk about it. It makes the conversation about pleasure much easier to have.
What this might mean for the future
Pondering this idea of sex tech that looks like anything but sex tech fires up all kinds of possibilities for other potential products, like rings built to also vibrate or buzz, bracelets that could be unwound to become a flexible-type of toy, or even nipple-stimulating necklaces.
More importantly, by changing the idea of sex tech design folks like the ones behind Unbound and Crave are working to take sex from being compartmentalized into the private realm alone. They are breaking the taboo that sexuality shouldn’t be discussed and removing perceptions of it being shameful.
Even if a device is not designed to be attractive jewelry, moving sex tech away from “disembodied genitalia” can also serve to destigmatize female sexuality.
“We’ve found that when you design things that aren’t meant to substitute for human anatomy, there’s a far warmer reception,” Rodriguez said.
Part of this is, again, is all about changing how we think about sex and using sex tech. Instead of having a lifelike sex toy—which can bring unnecessarily comparisons to the real thing or even make a partner feel intimidated by their use—it’s far easier to focus on the use and result.
But there’s an even bigger positive that comes through all this, one that’s perfectly illustrated by Rodriguez’s statement about wearing something that only reveals itself to be a sex toy when the wearer wants to.
These sex tech jewelry designs are becoming effective tools to open up communication about sexual pleasure, and the empowerment of women to seek it out and enjoy it on their own terms.
“We have to be able to talk about pleasure. I hope in 10 years we’ll have normalized that conversation. No, actually, we’ll definitely have normalized that conversation,” said Chang.
Image sources: Unbound, The Grommet