When will we see "smart" sex and love wearables that aren't moronic?

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on January 30, 2014

From The News Desk

This week "smart bra" Ravijour made headlines for being the stupidest product ever built. It beats anti-rape panties and every single item on this list: "8 wearable Kickstarter devices so ridiculous they should be “Tim and Eric” sketches." It's an even funnier joke than SNL could have come up with, except, oh wait, they're not kidding.

The idea behind the smart Ravijour bra is that built-in sensors in the material read a woman's heart rate and transmit that information to a phone app. The front-clasp of the bra can only open when her heart pounds fast enough and proves she's near her true love. That way, any other creeper giving it a shot is thwarted.

That's some weird, messed up fetishistic fairy tale technology. Naturally it's from the minds of a few dudes. The "True Love" bra isn't a reality yet -- it's just the "concept" for a new product from the company.

But what's sad is that even just as an idea, Ravijour is one of few wearable or connected device designs out there in the sex and love vertical. It's a section of society that has gone untapped by hardware technical ingenues, who prefer to wire up thermostats and fitness bracelets instead, I guess.

Of the products that are out there and have gotten the most media coverage, we've got Vibease's "smart vibrator" which lets you read a book and get off when you get to the sexy parts. There's also LovePalz and LinkCube which let you have sex "remotely" with a partner via two sex toys in the appropriate shapes. Your moans activate LinkCube's vibrating. Or, if you've got roommates and have to keep it on the down low, you shake the iPhone app with your free hand. What?

There's OhMiBod's Blue Motion vibrator which your partner can control by an app on their phone. There's Limon, which memorizes a vibrator's intensity pattern so it can be "replayed." Limon isn't a connected device or a wearable so it doesn't belong on this list, but at least it's a new idea.

Then there's RealMotion's terrifying contraption which helps a dude get off with "models" on the Internet who stroke a corresponding dildo. Don't worry, as RealMotion's gem of a video explains, "It's safe, it's easy to clean, it never gives you an attitude and it always says yes." Because a woman's power of decision making is easily the most annoying part about her.

And that's about it. None of these products are new or revolutionary. It's the field of teledildonics and it's been around since 2000 when Time magazine predicted it would become our sex-future.

But unless I'm missing something major with my research, nothing much has changed in the last 14 years. There's virtually no innovation happening in the sex and romance category of wearables and smart devices.

Where are the defining tentpole companies of this sector? How is the best thing out there a vibrator that can read you bedtime stories? Love and romance could benefit just as much from smart product disruption as smoke detectors and fitness.

What about a wearable that reads heart beat and alerts your romantic partner when you're feeling stressed, so they can text you to check in and offer support? Or a vibrator that uses machine learning to master the rhythm and speed variations you need to get off depending on the time of day, month, or year? That way, your partner can use it on you without blindly guessing.

Alright, maybe these ideas are just as terrible as what's out there, but I'm sure innovative entrepreneurs could come up with far more compelling products.

For the first one who does: The market is theirs.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pando]