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by Lauren Clair December 31, 2019

I’ve been working in this industry for over a decade, which means I have been privy to all the moving and shaking that has gone on in the '10s. It also means I have rolled my eyes countless times at folk who enter the industry shouting about how innovative their new product is, but are actually just releasing a toy that basically already exists, or are white-label versions (aka cheap copies) of luxury toys. I’m sceptical of people who try to tell you they are reinventing the wheel, especially in an industry where offering up something exciting and new that isn’t just a variation on a theme is genuinely difficult to do.

So, with that in mind, my Top Five Sex Toy Trends of the Decade includes products that actually brought us a whole new way to get off, as well as some innovative takes on the classics. It's worth noting too, that this is just my personal opinion on what really mattered this decade, and is by no means exhaustive (and was absolutely written last minute during a heatwave instead of being penned during the allocated blog writing time during the cooler weather earlier this month).

Pulsators

In 2012, Fun Factory changed the game (and my solo sex life) with the release of the Stronic Eins Pulsator. Distinct from a vibrator and more than a dildo, a pulsator, well, pulses. Thrusting toys and fucking machines were hardly new at this point, but a pulsator doesn’t really thrust in the way a thruster or fucking machine does, rather the internal motor utilises a combination of engineering wonderment and magnets (how do they work?) to rock the toy back and forth.

This was a game changer for folk who like internal penetration but can’t, or just don’t wanna, do the work of manually pumping a dildo in and out. The pulsators allow you to be penetrated without you having to lift a finger, and that is the kind of relationship I am always looking for.

Pressure Wave Stimulators

This is probably going to be number one on a great many round ups for this decade. And understandably so. Much like the existing thrusters had nothing on what the Pulsator brought to the table, any existing suction toy or oral sex simulator was not comparable to the 2016 wave of pleasure brought on by Pressure Wave Stimulators. Pressure Wave toys create suction around the head of the clitoris, but then, rather than creating suction like a vacuum pump would do, they use negative pressure to create a sensation that isn’t quite like anything else we’ve known in this industry.

Two German companies, Satisfyer and Womanizer, dominated the scene (incidentally, the Pulsator was also a German invention) when these toys first hit the market. Womanizer’s first line was a gaudy mess of diamante and questionable names and Satisfyer were plagued with accusations of being a copycat brand. Both seem to have settled in to their high-selling rhythms, and plenty of other manufacturers are now offering their own take on the pressure wave toy, and I suspect by 2030, they’ll be as common and ubiquitous as the vibrator is now.

App-Enabled Vibrators

This is both terrifying and alluring, gimmicky and game-changing all at once. App-enabled vibrators, like 2014’s We-Vibe 4 Plus, offered us a few things. Firstly, they gave people in long distance relationships new ways to be intimate with one another while they were apart, they gave sex workers (especially cam models) a new way to interact with clients, they provided a far more discreet option for public toy play and lastly, they fed our collective desire for tracking and data on everything we do.

Your mileage on that last one (or indeed, all of those points) may vary. I for one do not give a fuck how many calories I burn whilst jacking off, but if you are into it, you do you, boo.

What interests me most are the other applications. Being able to use your phone to control the intensity of pleasure someone on the other side of the world is experiencing is truly a product of, and for, our times. It will also be interesting to watch what these tech giants like We-Vibe do in the growing digital morality wars. Sex leads so much technical innovation, from media to robotics, and the irony of the increasing censorship and sex-negativity of our digital world in the face of this leadership is not lost on me.

Silicone Floggers and Impact Toys

When Tantus sent out their first sets of 100% platinum silicone floggers back in 2013, it was one of those moments where a company took an existing standard (floggers, paddles) and really took things up a notch. Traditionally, these sorts of impact toys are made from porous materials, like leather or fabrics, and whilst that is totally fine, those materials aren’t able to be sterilised, and that will affect how and who you are using them with.

Silicone, on the other hand, can be sterilised, so you can go hard with the paddles at the play party, and then ensure they are free from all bodily fluids before using them with another person. That seems like a pretty obvious idea in hindsight, and bless Tantus for being the first to realise it!

Affordable Silicone Toys

Finally, I think one of the defining factors of the decade was the increase in affordable, bodysafe manufacturing. People became more aware of, and more interested in, sex toy manufacturing and design across the last decade. In general, people seemed to be becoming more concerned about what they put in and on their bodies, and which products were contributing positively or negatively to the earth and the environment. With the sex toy industry booming, an increase in women and minority-led business and more consumer concern about health and safety, it was almost inevitable that silicone toys - once the domain of high end and artisan design, became far more accessible.

No more was it a choice between bodysafe materials and chemical burn risks, more and more manufacturers were offering up their mass-produced and lower-end designs in silicone, instead of just jelly rubbers and PVC that leached out chemical slime and occasionally just straight up melted.

From brands like NS Novelties and Blush switching up their lower-end lines and small indie makers like Funkit Toys leading the way with the Nofrilldos (a simple range of no-frill dildos poured by hand and sold at accessible prices - a move that is almost impossible for small businesses to pull off), plenty of other toy manufacturers are following suit. 

Forget the sexbot uprising: supporting artisan toy-makers who create quality, bodysafe wares at affordable prices is the way of the future, and I’m totally into it.


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