Christmas 2004 was a pivotal time for Suki and Brian Dunham. That Christmas, Brian gave Suki a new vibrator and iPod setting forth a chain of events that would lead to OhMiBod, one of the best known names in the vibrator and pleasure device industry.
Appreciating the two gifts, Suki wondered how great it would be to pair the two devices together to create a dual-sensory experience. With a background in Apple product marketing, she got to work, alongside her husband.
Two years later, OhMiBod was conceived and launched with the iPod vibrator - a device that uses music to create personalized sensations in a vibrator. The tech was innovative at the time, allowing users to feel the vibrations of their favorite music, as well as using it as a conventional pleasure device.
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Not only was it the world's first music-driven vibrator, the iPod vibrator also set out to be the first socially acceptable massager, with a focus on a sophisticated and elegant design. Rather than seeming potentially sordid like other personal massagers, it's easily hidden in your purse, and distinctly stylish in appearance. A combination of innovative thinking and style ensured it went onto win numerous awards over the years, with OhMiBod continuing to revolutionize pleasure wearables.
Music's pleasure enhancing effects
Combining music and sexual pleasure makes perfect sense, given the numerous studies that have found a link. CNN reported in 2012 on a Spotify commissioned study which determined that music is more sexually arousing than touch.
Going from a wired product to wireless is no different than what Apple just did with cutting the cord and introducing wireless earbuds
Another study published in the National Academy of Sciences determined that dopamine boosts were triggered by listening to favorite parts of songs, ensuring pleasure derived from music was quite significant. The links are widespread. Music makes people happy and, generally, so does sexual pleasure.
OhMiBod didn't stop with the iPod vibrator, moving further into the field of pleasure wearables. The team listened to customer feedback, taking on board what was requested while keeping up with technological advances.
"While we were at CES one year, a lot of customers asked 'Hey, can you control your products remotely?' Bottom line is that we listen to our customers!" explained Suki Dunham, co-founder of OhMiBod. "We also like to leverage new technologies as they come about. Going from a wired product to wireless is no different than what Apple just did with cutting the cord and introducing wireless earbuds," she added.
With such technologies becoming more affordable and readily available, it was the ideal time to expand OhMiBod's product portfolio.
In 2014, such thinking led to the OhMiBod Remote Control vibrator. Originally conceived as a device that would work via Bluetooth, allowing users to manipulate the vibrator remotely via a smartphone app, it eventually also offered WiFi capabilities. That allowed the user to control their partner's vibrator from any location, at the touch of the app, making it ideal for long distance relationships.
The app offered more options than a physical remote could too, with a 'touch' functionality allowing users to draw a pattern. Voice connectivity meant that one's voice could be used to create a looping vibration pattern that's customized according to the sound of the app's user.
Rather than relying on direct and more conventional funding, the OhMiBod remote control vibrator was funded via an Indiegogo campaign.
"We really decided to take advantage of the crowd sourcing campaign to build awareness and also to be able to have direct communication with customers," explained Dunham, citing the feedback they were able to glean from doing so. "It's really a great way for companies to launch a new product and get a direct response from beta customers and influencers."
The campaign was a big success, raising 188% of its original $20,000 target. The device is now available via the OhMiBod website, as well as other outlets.
The health benefits of pleasure devices
In recent times, OhMiBod has briefly stepped away from developing wearables to solely focus on pleasure. The shift has ensured that the company also has room for devices such as the Lovelife Krush. The internal device is a more health focused wearable, focused on improving women's lives in a similar way to the Elvie.
The gadget works on improving women's kegel muscles via a small physical insertable device and your smartphone. Providing a series of exercises, it helps strengthen one's pelvic floor muscles, muscles that are often weakened over time due to childbirth and ageing. With built-in sensor technology, and a strong motor, it measures the pressure, control, endurance, and grip of one's PC/pelvic muscles, before adapting an exercise programme accordingly. Essentially, it's a form of workout for muscles that are all too frequently overlooked.
"[It's] a natural extension of what we do," explained Dunham. "We're all about sexual health and wellness whether it's increasing levels of intimacy for couples or simply having more orgasms." Like many of OhMiBod's products, it's of particular relevance to Dunham herself, "The Kegel exerciser is something that is important to me, especially as I become older and want to keep my own PC muscles in shape!"
Much like Elvie, it demonstrates the need for wearables that aren't just focused on things like running faster, or eating well, but improving one's overall health. It might initially seem like a relatively niche concept, but it's one that's gradually growing in prominence.
Sex, wearables and VR
The future of connected tech and sex
The fact that OhMiBod's products are so readily accessible online eradicates the outdated notion that sex toys are only available through somewhat sordid alleyway stores. It breaks down barriers in an industry where women in particular, are still apprehensive about being seen as sexual beings.
In many ways, such wearable technology for women is merely scratching the surface so far. In the case of connected sex technology, as Dunham notes, it's "moving fast." OhMiBod believes that "the way people connect and enhance their intimates lives will be dramatically different" in the future compared to today, with such wearables improving people's mental well being and happiness.
The most obvious route is via new technologies such as VR. Dunham believes that Snapchat, Skype, text, and other sharing platforms have done a lot to connect people more intimately, but that VR will continue to add to the potential of what can be achieved in this field. For many in long distance relationships, this could be a significant path to feeling more 'together' while separated by distance.
For now though, while it's clear that OhMiBod will continue to pursue new ideas in the sex wearables field, Dunham is confidently keeping her cards close to her chest. "We're working on a bunch of things - but don't want to spoil the surprise!" she offers as a final say on the matter.