Rise of sex technologies in the time of Covid-19

Sex tech is more than sex toys or objects used for sexual stimulation. It is a billion-dollar industry that builds a wide range of products for...

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting sexuality and relationships. The confinement and social distancing measures protecting us are unintentionally exacerbating intimacy-related difficulties and limiting people’s access to partners.

For some, COVID-19 is synonymous with loneliness and relationship stress. Many people end up choosing between intimacy and security. Singles looking for partners resign to celibacy, while couples experience tensions related to forced isolation.

Sex tech is more than sex toys or objects used for sexual stimulation. It is a billion-dollar industry that builds a wide range of products for interactive, immersive, and connected erotic experiences. This includes but is not limited to: virtual augmented and mixed reality, “teledildonics,” dating applications and platforms, online erotic games, and artificial erotic agents (or e-robots) such as sex robots, virtual partners, or erotic chatbots.

Sex tech is perhaps one of the only industries resilient to pandemics. The sale of sex toys skyrocketed, companies have reported an increase in sex and love doll purchases and sex-tech startups are thriving. While numbers from the private sector should be interpreted with caution, COVID-19 is affecting how we explore intimacy with ourselves and others.

Sex tech is a safer way to fulfill our sexual and emotional needs in times of lockdown and social distancing. It offers innovative and inclusive ways to erotically engage with humans and machines that can address our desires for sexual pleasure and also cater to our needs for affection and companionship. Sex tech could help alleviate the suffering borne out of solitude or forced celibacy and let us keep in touch with our loved ones while we wait for the storm to pass.

In sum, the pandemic could be a chance for us to become a bit more “digisexual,” or sexually-oriented towards technology.0

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