Culture

Connected sex toys are COVID-19-proof, so everyone is getting nasty online

Partner-controlled vibrators and smart sex devices have made getting off something entirely new in the age of coronavirus.

Video-conferencing apps aren’t the only ones cashing in on worldwide lockdowns. Since the start of the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, demand for online adult entertainment has skyrocketed. It makes sense, of course, especially considering the many people not isolating with someone they enjoy being intimate with.

So we turn to the internet to satiate our desires in any way possible. And that goes far beyond what we might consider ‘traditional’ porn.

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Cam sites, many of which connect viewers with live models, have seen a substantial uptick in both new performers and new members. And, the situation has turned out to be the launchpad the teledildonics industry needed all along.

In COVID-19 times, camming and internet-connected dildos are a match made in heaven. It's the next best thing to real human contact.

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“We typically see a 30 percent year over year growth in use of these toys. Over the last few months with COVID-19, we have seen this growth triple.”

Daryn Parker, VP at CamSoda

20%

Cams.com has also seen teledildonics use increase. It logged a 20 percent rise in "buzz activity" — or engagement with models' smart toys.

Cams.com, May 2020

Cams.com models can opt to work with interactive vibrators that respond to viewers' tips, with the option of "buzz" or "super buzz."

With the spike in buzz activity, Cams.com told Input that models' earnings were up 21 percent in April 2020 compared to January 2020 (or pre-COVID in the U.S.).

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Even without cam models leading the way, people stuck in lockdown have been lapping up teledildonic devices to connect to partners far and wide — despite cautionary advice about their functionality.

Popular smart sex toy-makers like Kiiroo and Vibease have seen their devices flying off the shelves in recent weeks.

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75%

How sales of Kiiroo's couples' smart sex toys have spiked compared to this time last year. Sales overall are up 25 percent.

Kiiroo, May 2020

50%

Vibease says it's seen a 50 percent increase in both general sales and signups for its long-distance feature.

100%

People are also filling the void with audio erotica, which saw a 100 percent increase in downloads this spring. The steamy tales sync with Vibease toys' vibrations.

Vibease

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And we can't forget about VR, of course.

In early March, porn company VR Bangers said demand for the experience had increased “beyond the wildest expectations of the creators.”

“Virtual reality technology is nothing new for the xxx industry, but such VR adult scenes have never been as popular as regular, 2-dimensional adult films – which, however, can be changed by the coronavirus pandemic,” the company said.

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Teledildonics aside, camming on its own is way up as a result of COVID-19. Between March and April, adult entertainment site CamSoda saw its overall traffic double compared to last year.

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3x

And traffic from new users is triple what it was in 2019.

CamSoda, April 2020

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300%

The increase in the number of CamSoda performers getting paid each week, as of early April.

CamSoda

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Sites like Imlive and IsMyGirl have also reported an influx of new users and models. The latter, a subscription-based adult social platform, said it had a 40 percent increase in sales, a 400 percent increase in new model signups, and a 50 percent traffic spike at the beginning of April.

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Experts are torn on what the longterm outlook is for sex tech as we've come to use it — will we hang onto our new habits once the pandemic blows over? — but there's no denying its importance in keeping us from getting too restless.

“COVID-19 may be a turning point in the use of, and attitudes toward, technologically mediated sex and intimacy,” researchers Jennifer Power and Andrea Waling noted in a recent essay on the topic. It is, however, too soon to know for sure, the pair says.

Hookups may be on pause indefinitely but creativity is doing better than ever. Maybe we'll all come out of this wielding a better relationship with personal pleasure and a few new tricks up our sleeves. But in the meantime...

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“You are your safest sex partner.”

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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