Sex Toy Design – Engineering for Entertainment, Endurance, Enjoyment and Eliciting Exuberance!
When we engineer, we look at the basic building blocks of design. To understand the needs of the consumer we are taught to dig down to the core of a problem, using thought as the tool to build a technology to fit that customer’s need. In this article we will take a short dive into the world of sexual toys and devices. Some sexual terms will be used for reference and description as we look as this challenge from an engineering aspect. Please leave your personal beliefs on the issue behind for just a moment, as we delve into what it means to design something completely new and different. In this challenge I will ask you first to consider what the needs or want of our consumer may be…
The realm of sex toys is not limited to just handheld devices. As technology has bloomed recently there has been an ever-growing market for new types of toys. Starting with the vibrator or plug, as the origin point, there is a continuously growing market for devices which better emulate a penis or a vagina.
As handheld gadgetry continues to grow in sophistication, more technologically advanced “equipment” has also been created, to create products that look and feels closer to another human. However, this article will focus on handheld gadgets.
Practice Challenge: Sex Toy Design
Any great design challenge starts with a vague problem that designers are tasked with finding a solution to. In this case our challenge will be:
“Design a new and unique sexual toy, which can offer never before seen pleasure”
Our first step should be to break down the challenge into manageable pieces. As a previous design engineer, I broke the problem statement into four statements:
- Primary design constraint – Sex Toy
- Important factor 1 – Safety
- Important factor 2 – New and novel design
- Additional task – Never before seen pleasure
With every additional factor and task, constraints are added to the design, but new ideas can arise from each question. These constraints can cause new design and development ideas, as the ideas change so will the possibilities of the end product. Every technology goes through rapid stages of evolution during prototyping and many wind up completely different from their initial idea.
Looking at the first statement, we are designing a sex toy, in theory similar to, but not necessarily limited to the different devices mentioned earlier. So whom are we designing this device for? Is it limited to just a female, a male, or perhaps something for both partners. Sexual pleasure and enjoyment can be achieved through a wide variety of different actions, types of stimulation, and sensory elements; perhaps we could expand the horizons to make the toy look like a garment, a piece of furniture, or a piece of art!
So far we are only limited by the bounds of our imaginations of what to create. For the given challenge we will attempt to create a piece of art which can double as a sex toy. Henceforth this will be known as the Moanet™, pronounced like the artist’s name (my one terrible joke for the article).
The next item for consideration on the sex toy design challenge is safety. When designing the Moanet, we need to consider how the device will be used and how it may fail (frequently referred to as PFEMA or Process Failure Mode and Effective Analysis). Depending on how the Moanet can be used, we need to ensure the materials chosen are durable enough to withstand their intended use, and are also non-porous (or anti-microbial) to reduce risk of biological agents remaining on the device. If batteries or a motor is used within the device, it is important that the device doesn’t heat up or pass current to a user. Each one of these small concerns adds up to create a primary list of important factors when deciding what materials, motors, or mechanics are used in the design.
To create a new and novel design, we cannot simply copy existing designs, so we must build our own to match our requirements. If we compare different toys with the Moanet we may find similar uses, looks, or shapes. However, the ability to articulate why the design is unique can only serve to help differentiate the new design from others. For example:
While the MoanetTM is similar in function to that of a vibrator, it shows a unique strength in also appearing as a piece of art around the house. It gives a thrill to those showing off their new decor to visitors, and an even greater thrill when the visitors leave
This leads to the final point of the challenge list, “never before seen pleasure”. In different scenarios we are faced with the task of answering a vague question which does not have a single direct answer. This requirement might sound like it is demanding some major innovation, but it could simply be a prompt for a unique perspective on the problem instead. We don’t expect everyday problem solving to cause technology to take a leap forward in a wildly new direction. This type of challenge is about considering the question, then trying to look at it from a new perspective. You will never face two design challenges which exhibit exactly the exact same constraints.
In this example we briefly worked through the notion of developing a new sex toy, but the methodology used in this example can be used with any other design challenge. Stepping back and looking at how you interpret a challenge, even on something like sex toy design, can lead to new considerations or important concerns you may have missed otherwise.
There are usually no two identical solutions to a problem and no single best answer above all others.
Much like our challenge topic, everyday design and engineering solutions need to be fluid and ever-changing in order to satisfy a constantly evolving market.