When it comes to buzzy start-up sectors most people have heard of fintech, cleantech and foodtech. Sextech, on the other hand, is underreported and dismissed as taboo, prompting clichéd images of vibrators and sex toys more so than discreet sexual health apps. Now a dynamic group of sextech entrepreneurs are challenging the status quo and making the case for female involvement in this growing industry – expected to be worth USD$30 billion by 2020 and set to outpace the drone industry. Their driver is in knowing why it’s critical for everyone’s health, happiness and shared humanity. “It’s a beautiful thing to put tech on the end of sex because it gives us permission to talk about sex and normalize the conversation,” says Bryony Cole (pictured), creator of the popular Future of Sex podcast and part of the New York-based Women of Sex Tech. “Everyone has sex, it’s how we all got here. Now we need to talk about it in the context of 2018 and that means talking about sexting and revenge porn and all the ways technology is entering the bedroom and beyond.”
Cole discovered sextech almost by accident. In her role at Microsoft in Australia and the US she helped translate what technology meant for customers and society at large. Then, while working on a project about the future of nightlife, she discovered much of the technology we take for granted today – such as online payment systems and live video streaming – was developed and driven by the adult entertainment industry. “When you’re sitting at the very frontier of technology, a lot of the innovations actually start with sex,” says Cole. “I became really interested in how these tech innovations are changing the way we fall in love and have sex. I want to explore how our virtual lives will impact expectations and real-life interactions and potentially family structures.” Cole claims that within five years, virtual reality will be in one in five homes in the first world. She wants everyone, particularly women, to be part of the conversation around how tech is going to impact our lives. In 2016, she launched Future of Sex to do just that. She’s since pivoted her career entirely to help expose women to international opportunities in the sextech space by hosting hackathons from New York to Singapore and Sydney.
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