Artificial Intelligence and Sexual Wellness: The Future is Looking (And Feeling) Good

Artificial Intelligence and Sexual Wellness: The Future is Looking (And Feeling) Good
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What does artificial intelligence have to do with sex? No, it’s not a set up for a dirty joke. It’s actually a question we recently asked the man in charge of tech at the world’s largest sexual wellness company.

When you think of technology and innovation while talking about sexual wellness devices (the term we prefer to use for ‘sex toys’), it’s likely you think of the speeds of a vibrator, or an app that controls something you use in the bedroom. But it goes much deeper than that. And the possibilities of where it can go in the future, thanks to tech such as artificial intelligence (AI), are as mind-blowing as an orgasm (at least for tech nerds like us).

The Lovehoney Group is on a mission to promote sexual happiness and empowerment through design, innovation and research and development. And after chatting with The Lovehoney Group’s chief engineering and production officer Tobias Zegenhagen, it’s easy to see just how much tech is actually involved in the sexual wellness industry.

But what if it could go one step further? What if a device just knew what felt good? Enter AI.

AI and sexual wellness

Currently, the user or their partner is the one controlling certain buttons, either on the device or a remote control. But, what if the device could be the one controlling the device?

“Algorithms, AI sensing your responses, then using that data in order to intelligently drive the toy the way you want it,” Zegenhagen described of a future that isn’t all that far away. An AI controlling a toy based on your movements, reactions and learning from the previous data it’s pulled from you.

“You are getting information and you use that information intelligently in order to fulfil a user need.”

It’s pretty straight forward when it’s broken down like that.

Lovehoney Group has a product in the market already, the We-Vibe Chorus, which allows you to, via an app, share vibrations during sex. Chorus matches its vibration intensity to the strength of your grip, with the idea being that it’s completely in tune with you. The Chorus has a capacitive sensor in it that senses the act of sexual intercourse. During PIV sex, it senses the touching of the two bodies, and according to these touches, it controlls the toy.

“It is a straightforward algorithm,” Zegenhagen said.

It actually makes a lot of sense. If you think about each of the sexual partners you’ve had throughout your life, no one’s body is the same.

“How you move is individual and changes all the time from person to person, from day to day,” Zegenhagen said, adding what you want during sex is also individual.

“Controlling the toy in general, and then … individualising it to the person. That is where I see AI coming in.”

There’s an immense amount of promise. But it’s important Lovehoney Group (and their peers, of course) use technology for the right purpose. That is, not just using tech like AI for the sake of it, that it offers something of benefit to the sexual experience. And, that data privacy is front and centre.

An intense amount of R&D

“It is definitely in our core to try to innovate, and we need to research in order to better understand user needs, and to use technology in order to advance and to innovate,” Zegenhagen explained. But it isn’t that straight forward. There’s an insane amount of people at Lovehoney Group in the R&D (research and development) space.

“If you compare it with other technological fields or areas, what is real particular in this case, is that the requirements that you formulate are very blurry and very individual,” he said. “If you ask somebody, ‘What does sexual fulfillment mean for you?’, ‘What is a perfect orgasm?’, you could ask a hundred people and you get 500 answers.”

Unlike with, say, a phone, when it comes to sexual wellness, it’s very difficult for a user to state the actual need. But as Zegenhagen explained, it is also very difficult to then verify that the need is actually being fulfilled by the technology. That’s without even taking into consideration any biological and neurological factors.

“We have a rough understanding of how touch works and how we perceive stimulation,” Zegenhagen said. “But do we know all the mechanisms behind it? Absolutely not. What happens when I touch a rough surface with my hand? How do my mechanical receptors perceive that? How is that being transferred to the brain? All this is pretty much unclear.”

While a sexual wellness device isn’t the same as medication, the closest comparison is probably with developing a new drug. You answer a need, test it, tweak it, test on a broader audience – but everyone’s response to that medication will be different.

“The human being is too complex to fully understand,” he added.

“I think that the easiest technical solution to meet a user need is the best technical solution, not the most complex one.

“You don’t have to be technically complex to be innovative. You don’t have to be technically complex to meet a user need … it has to be as simple as possible.”

Well, yes, that’s true. It would definitely kill the mood if you had to read a 30-page user manual or learn something needed to be charged, paired, updated, etc the moment you’re about to use it.

“There is a huge playground for technology in our field,” Zegenhagen said.

With AI offering all sorts of benefits to our sexual wellness, the future sure is looking (and feeling) good.