Sex tech was back at the annual Consumer Electronic Show, with the focus on more polite theme of “wellness,” and less on sex toys.
The wellness technology goes beyond vibrators to tools intended to help improve sexual health and education as well as combat sex crimes, Bryony Cole, host of the Future of Sex podcast, told Fox Business. She said sex tech companies help promote the idea of sexual wellness by participating at CES, the high-profile gathering at which the world’s hottest consumer-technology innovations are unveiled for potential investors and the public.
“Sex toys have moved into the category of wellness and are more and more seen as an important component to self- care, which is a huge progress from the previous decade,” Cole she told Fox. “I think this has helped raise the profile of sex tech to more than just sex robots or VR porn, but we still need to look at the broader category as including education and intimacy improvement.”
A year ago, the Ose vibrator won an innovation award and was promptly disqualified by CES parent the Consumer Technology Association, which called the device “obscene.” After a public outcry, the award was reinstated. The group decided to bring sex tech back on a trial basis just for this year.
Normalizing sex tech may help tear down roadblocks to finding investors in an industry previously seen as taboo. And the market is potentially huge. The Guardian newspaper put the value of the sex-tech industry at $30 billion in 2017.
Amazon now sells 60,000 sexual-wellness products that brought in about $800 million in sales in 2018, Andrea Barrica, a former venture capitalist and author of “Sextech Revolution: The Future of Sexual Wellness,” told the MIT Technology Review.
- Venture capitalists are starting to step up, with Ose creator Lora DiCarlo securing $2 million in venture-capital funding in the aftermath of the CES controversy last year, according to the MIT Technology Review.
- The global sexual wellness market is expected to grow to $123 billion by 2026 from $39.4 billion in 2017, according to estimates from Stratistics MRC.