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Tech Tent: the technology of pleasure

When it comes to sex tech, the gadgets that grab the headlines tend to be the sex robots, with their exaggeratedly feminine shapes and artificially intelligent responses to desire.

But the market extends beyond these devices, and one British firm is seeking to challenge the stereotype.

Stephanie Alys, co-founder of Mystery Vibe, describes her firm’s product, the Crescendo vibrator, as a luxury sex toy. With a $180 price tag – £139 in the UK – it’s certainly not cheap.

It’s a silicon-encased device which can be bent into a number of shapes. It can be controlled via a phone app and features wireless charging.

It’s app-powered, but in this age of fierce debate about data privacy and protection, is this most personal of data for sharing?

There is no log-in to the Mystery Vibe app and no data is collected, says Stephanie Alys – although she admits she can see the potential for data analytics in the future.

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    “If we put sensors in the silicon that understood indications of arousal, if you understood what turned one person on …. you could start to create content for them, maybe visual content through their smart TV, or even interact with other objects in their smart home – their smart heating, their smart lighting to create a very immersive experience,” she said.

    But is the consumer ready for that?

    “I’m having a hard time imagining getting aroused while knowing that my toy is recording information about me and talking to the other connecting devices in my house,” said Kashmir Hill from Gizmodo.

    She recalled the story of Canadian firm WeVibe, which collected all kinds of data about how its sex toy was being used – but neglected to inform its customers that it was doing so.

    The firm argued that the data helped it to improve its product – but still faced legal action as a result.

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