Sex tech: what it means for love, sex, and intimacy

5 questions with Bryony Cole


We spoke with Bryony Cole, a leading authority on sex tech, to explore what technology will mean for our romantic relationships, as well as those in the bedroom. Its future involves much more than you might think, and its possibilities extend beyond the toys that spice up our lives today. It may sound counter intuitive, but could sex tech be the tool that helps us evolve in intimacy and love? 

Sure, tech can help us have better sex: do you think it can help us to be “better at love?”

Sextech is great at many enhancing areas of sexuality – certainly there are amazing tools to help us close the orgasm gap. When we think of intimacy though, it is not just about the physical experience, but the emotional one, the one people commonly associate with love. There are some sextech tools on the market which aim to help us become better at intimacy, better lovers. Apps like Lover, Bravi, Coral, Ferly are all designed to improve your understanding of how you love. Think of it as a light form of relationship therapy, without the hefty bill, or a meditation app, but for intimacy.

In the future, will we need real humans to fulfil the craving for love and intimacy?

I believe we will always need real humans to fulfil our need for human connection. No matter how close technology gets to “the real thing” it is very hard for it to replicate what humans are best at, capabilities that rely on our innate sense of intuition, our mystery, spontaneity, and ability to use our imagination. 

Sure, but is it realistic to keep the spark alive with the same partner? 

When it comes to desire and attraction, research shows a little unpredictability goes a long way: as sex therapist Ian Kerner explains in his book Passionista, unpredictiability spikes the brain’s natural amphetamines, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play a big role in sexual arousal. These creative, spontaneous parts of us that make us real to one another.

Can you tell us about the most unique ways of sex tech actually boosting intimacy?

What makes you feel closer to someone? Is it a sense of touch, expressing a vulnerable story, discussing intellectual curiosity or having a shared experience. Technology can find ways to help all these dimensions of intimacy, through haptic experiences to transmit a lover’s heartbeat from miles away to products that allow us to have tough conversations. The most unique examples of sextech boosting intimacy are so many, but mostly because they prompt a conversation between lovers. Bringing up a potentially embarassing topic about your sex life, such as painful sex, can feel really difficult. Having a fun product to talk about makes it easier to break the ice. Some of my favorite examples are Morari Medical’s wearable for PE and the OhNut for painful sex. Both of these technologies address a very difficult intimate issue with a large percentage of the population share. Just their existence makes it a lot easier to intimately share with a partner about your sex life and start a conversation.

What are the craziest misconceptions about sex vs. technology you think need to be tackled?

People think technology has all the answers. Most of the sextech we need is inside our minds! The brain is our biggest sex organ. Most of us are just lazy. We want technology to do the job of efficiently providing us with pleasure. And more pleasure! However, if engaged, the brain can be the most powerful technology you ever possess. Activities like dirty talk or role-play, allow us to have a multilayered sexual experience that extends further than just physical touch.

Bryony Cole is the world’s leading authority on sextech.
Since launching the top-rated podcast, Future of Sex, Bryony has been on stages across the world, defining the direction of sextech for governments, technology and entertainment companies. Her wide body of research and annual Future of Sex report are considered the lead in industry insights. Bryony is an international speaker, published writer and producer, who has been featured on shows like Viceland and Technopia, and articles in Wired, TechCrunch, The New York Times, Playboy, Mashable, Motherboard, ABC, Financial Review, Brides, Glamour and many other global media.

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