Pulling the Plug

A patent protecting the broad concept of “teledildonics” has recently expired, potentially paving the way for a wave of sex toys that can be controlled over the internet.

Teledildonics, also known as cyberdildonics, is a term to describe sex toys that can be plugged into a device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, and link to other sex toys and interactive applications over the internet, giving users the possibility to interact with sexual partners over long distances.

The patent, originally filed in 1998, includes descriptions of systems where stimulation devices are linked via transmitters to computers equipped with video cameras, capable of then connecting to and interacting with other such systems and pre-recorded video across the internet.

Many view this particular patent as having stifled development of this technology for several years, with the company that had owned the rights filing 10 lawsuits alleging infringement between 2015 and 2017, leading them to be labelled a “patent troll” and gaining notoriety in the industry. The expiration of the patent now potentially removes a large barrier to new development in this area.

However, despite cheers and applause from sex toy innovators, expiration of this single patent doesn’t necessarily mean a green light to a free-for-all for new teledildonics products. While on the surface it may look like a golden opportunity, other inventors will no doubt hold patents and intellectual property covering different areas of this technology, so even with one significant obstacle removed the wider legal minefield remains present. You are just a bit less likely to get sued.

As always, it’s important to continue to do your due diligence to ensure that your product doesn’t infringe anyone else’s intellectual property and land you and your business in hot water. Make use of the services of a patent attorney to help you discover the potential pitfalls and barriers to your product development early on in the process to avoid costly legal action and redesigns later on. It is important that you have a good understanding of the intellectual property landscape of your industry.

We as your product designers can then help you to come up with solutions that circumvent the rights held by your competitors and put valuable IP into your own hands.

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Are There Advantages of Outsourcing Your Design Requirements?

Here we look at why it may be the better option rather than building your own in-house team of designers.

Experience:
Consultancies deal with a wide range of products across a variety of markets, giving them a greater breadth and depth of skill and knowledge. This knowledge helps to fast track ideas to becoming a reality, whereas working within your own confines can potentially take much longer, especially if it is proving difficult to know where to begin.

Working with many projects and different clients, here at Sated Design we can cross pollinate insights and knowledge gained from a host of different varying projects. Our depth of experience coupled with your knowledge results in original thoughts which develop into original products that standout not just in terms of aesthetics but also in functionality.

Cost:
Hiring external design services at first glance may seem expensive, but in the long run will prove to be cost effective. By paying for design services only when you need them, this not only saves on the cost of salaries but also all of the other extra expenses such as software-licences, workstations, prototypes and testing equipment.

Design consultancies not only help to save time and money by designing your product but also help you save when it comes to manufacturing. By using your design-house’s suppliers, you will be able to receive competitive quotations and manufacturing experience, which is not easy to find on your own.

Flexibility:
Designing might not be your full time job, it may be your hobby therefore you may not have sufficient time to focus on achieving your goals for your project. Seeking external design expertise will help you prioritise the workload or assist you at critical phases of the design process. It is always a good idea to seek help or even advice during the development of your product. Any delays in launching products or missing a design opportunity can end up costing you far more than the cost of hiring external help.

Conclusion:
By helping you to refine your ideas to a good product for your intended market and ensuring that the end result can be manufactured we may just save you time, money and a catalogue of unexpected challenges.

If you need something designing, or to compliment your current design capabilities, or even just a fresh perspective on a project, please contact us here at Sated Design.

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The Importance of Continuous Testing

Testing a product concept during all stages of its development is an important part of the design process. Prototypes, mock-ups and test rigs, or whatever you wish to call them, enable the design team to evaluate every aspect of a product. Using feedback derived from tests the design team create great products which delight the user and make healthy profits for the manufacturing and distributing chain.

Here at Sated Design our approach to the development of adult toys makes use of many different types of prototypes and each prototype brings its own benefits to the end design. At the end of the development process the design team and the client can be confident that the final product is indeed fit for purpose. Prototypes are generally made in house in our model shop although we will use external suppliers for specialist parts.

Good visual imagery is an important part of any design process as it is an effective way of showing what the final outcome will potentially look like. 2D images have their place; they are great for visualisation but are unable to portray some of the important details; for example the weight and feel of the product. Accurate prototypes that are faithful to the intended appearance and feel of the final design are extremely useful in marketing discussions and for pre-launch media. We have lost count of the number of occasions when a prototype has been photographed before a production piece has been available. That is not poor time planning, it is in fact the opposite and a necessity when rapid design techniques have to bring together marketing/promotion during the run up to a launch or exhibition.

Good user experience is a vital part of any adult toy. The whole experience of receiving the item, opening the packaging and switching the toy on are very important but they are the aperitif for the main course. If the toy does not ‘work’ then it is just a big let-down and that has to be avoided at all costs. Working prototypes are a vital part of getting this right in the product development. An example of how this process can work came about very recently when our model makers made a silicone prototype of a new vibrator. This was sent out for user testing and the feedback suggested that the sensations could be improved by thickening a certain part of the shaft profile. A second prototype was quickly prepared and once again sent out to the same person for testing. Within days we received positive feedback. This simple, quick and low costs exercise gave the client the confidence to immediately go forward to the next stage of development and the tester kept the prototype!

Some prototypes are quite mundane but they still serve a vital role in improving the assembly and cost effective manufacture of a product. It is not uncommon for our design team to prepare several 3D printed prototypes to evaluate wiring, motor mounting, jigging/fixtures and resolving fine details of switches and connectors to ensure that no detail is ignored.

Do you have an idea for a new Sex Toy? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making your product a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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Is It Possible to Satisfy Everyone?

If someone said your laces were undone you would simply bend over and tie them without a moment’s hesitation wouldn’t you?  If they asked you to describe how you tie your shoe laces you would have to think it through and possibly find it difficult to adequately describe all the movements required to achieve this. Think of these movements and how difficult this simple task would be for someone who has mobility issues – you would be right to suggest ‘not easy’. Now imagine the struggle for the same person attempting to use an adult toy for pleasure!

Have you ever considered the phrase “to walk in someone else’s shoes”? This means to understand some aspect of life from another person’s experience and point of view. Not surprisingly this methodology is often referred to when designing products for the less abled and the associated problems that go with it. As product designers we apply this approach every day and most of the time it is not easy as you may expect. At the very simple end of the scale it might be possible to sit in a wheelchair and experience the problems of self-closing doors or reaching for items on the top shelf in a supermarket, but the majority of the experiences designers try to understand are often much more complex and perhaps none more so than when sexual satisfaction is in question.

How many of us have given any thought to the difficulty a less able person might have in achieving sexual satisfaction? What about a person who needs continual care and support? How do they satisfy their own needs when it might be impossible to even reach ‘down there’? How do you talk about this with a carer, especially if they are a family member? There are no easy and uncontroversial solutions for this particular situation but there are answers for people who experience difficulty in their reach, twisting, or gripping in everyday situations. Why should matter of sexual satisfaction be any different? It is arguable that what works for a less able bodied person will work even better for an able bodied person so it is beneficial to everyone to make the design of adult toys as inclusive as possible. Consider this, why should an able bodied person struggle just because they can adapt to make an inconsiderate design work?

The adult toy industry often talks about everyone having the right to sexual happiness and fulfillment but can it honestly say it offers all that it could?

Get in touch to discuss your ideas today.  We can help guide you through the journey of making your desirable product a reality.

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Different Shapes and Sizes

Silhouette Sex

In the world of adult products you would be very much mistaken for assuming that there is a limit to the range of toys available on the market. There is in fact a large variety of products out there to satisfy anyone’s desires; from rabbits to sleeves, from sensual to orgasmic, and importantly for all tastes and both sexes.

There are over seven billion people on our planet and no two people are exactly alike. On the outside (and inside) we may be similar, but in essence we are all unique and that uniqueness is often expressed as our likes and dislikes.

Sometimes we may share similar interests and dislikes with our contemporaries but in reality we all like different things that suit us personally. Because we are all inherently different, no single product will ever be perfect for everyone. Colour, shape, cultural influences, personal health and abilities, preferences in holding, stroking and the ubiquitous multitude of erogenous zones all add to the considerations an adult product designer must understand and work with. It is fair to say that there is no single toy design that will suit every user and that is why there is so much potential and fun in exploring and creating even more adult toys.

One of the more recent trends in adult toy design is that people are making more and more personal decisions about what sort of toy they want to buy and use, they are more confident in expressing themselves sexually with less fear of being judged. With people’s confidence increasing, there is a greater demand for a much larger variety of products, whether they are a slight alteration to a long existing design or something never seen, or thought of before.

With more than 15 years of experience of designing some truly unique products, here at Sated Design we continue to design and develop products to excite and satisfy today’s users.

If you have an idea for a new adult product, whether it is straightforward or complex, we at Sated Design can help bring your idea to life. We can take your concept through 2D visualisation right through to a fully working product ready to satisfy your customer’s needs.

Get in touch to discuss your ideas today.  We can help guide you through the journey of making your desirable product a reality.

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Cybersecurity and the Internet of Things

How would you feel if details about your personal life and most intimate activities were being collected without you knowing about it? Well the BBC reported last week on a legal case brought against Canadian firm Standard Innovation, manufacturers of the We-Vibe range of sex toys, who were accused of tracking data generated by thousands of their customers using We-Vibe products.
Cybersecurity and the IOT Article Image - Sated An app called We-Connect used with the We-Vibe vibrator relayed data on things like temperature, settings and usage back to the company. Feeling that their privacy had been violated, customers of Standard Innovation filed a class-action lawsuit against them in September 2016, resulting in Standard Innovation agreeing to compensate US customers and updating its privacy notice and app security.

The BBC report also detailed how the flaw with the app came to light, reporting on a pair of hackers who had demonstrated at a US hacking convention how the data could be sent from the device to the company. They also showed how malicious third parties could not only intercept data from the device, but more worryingly could possibly take control of the vibrator itself, in their words, committing “potentially sexual assault”.

The We-Vibe is an example of the ever-growing ‘Internet of Things – physical products and devices embedded with electronic components enabling them to connect to the internet. While the Internet of Things has already been around for a few years now, teething trouble like Standard Innovation’s story show that it remains very much in its infancy and there is still a lot work needed to bring it to maturity.

Reports such as this one from The Guardian also highlight the growing risk of criminals or terrorists hijacking internet-enabled devices to launch cyber-attacks, by exploiting deficiencies in, or lack of, in-built malware protection. One common type of attack is called a ‘distributed denial-of-service’ (DDoS) attack and involves a flood of data requests being sent to a website from a network of compromised devices, essentially overwhelming it and bringing it down. With an influx of new connected devices now coming online, the potential for such attacks is expected to significantly increase.

There are now several tasks ahead for manufacturers as a whole. One is to take heed of Standard Innovation’s cautionary tale and recognise that while the Internet of Things is a brave new world of technological wonder and commercial possibility, dangers and pitfalls exist that can have dire consequences, not only for unwary businesses but for the wider global community. The second is to determine exactly what these devices should be doing and agree a standard or best practise. Until such standards are in place Sated Design would urge all manufacturers to include cyber security as part of their product risk assessment reviews.

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Another Sated Design on its way to completion

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Lead times

Lead times are important to a project whatever the time of year. During the last few months of any year it is even more important to be aware of lead times than usual. This is because Christmas and Chinese New Year are on the horizon and their effect on a project’s lead time should always be borne in mind. At Sated Design we always make sure to advise clients of the effects of upcoming events to their schedule and if enough notice is given make sure they get to production with parts reviewed, checked and shipped before the factory finishes for the holidays.

Progressing Projects

Sated Design look to progress projects swiftly so that our clients can see samples return from the manufacturer as soon as is possible. We recently worked on a project which ran from concept to production issue in just over a month. This was an involved project that included Sated Design providing research, testing and a fully functioning prototype as well as the CAD design, costing and a comprehensive production issue.

Quick Lead Times

Sated Design make it possible to achieve quick lead times by using time compression techniques, an example of which was used at the start of this project. Concept design is progressed with the use of hand sketching this has a faster turnaround time than CAD and is suited for quickly exploring lots of different options. Throughout the project, up to the point of the production issue we maintain a dialogue with the tool maker to ensure a smooth hand over.

Communication

But Sated Designs involvement does not stop at the production issue. We communicate with the tool maker as tooling progresses to help ensure that the project arrives on time and at the agreed quality. It is very satisfying to work in cooperation with manufacturers and clients so they can arrive at a point where tooling commences promptly with samples production following on.

If you have a new adult product idea or an existing product you want to develop for this fast moving market, we are the people to help you get there and succeed. Give us a call on 01626 774881 for a free of charge, confidential initial consultation.

Let’s Create Something Great Together
Contact us today
[email protected]

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Choosing a plastic Part 2

Which plastic should I choose?

There are literally thousands of different plastics and plastic alloys, with more being added to the list monthly. sex-toy-plasticsBelow are a selection of the plastics you will encounter in products you use every day.

Generalised qualities of some plastics?

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

A polymer of styrene (providing a shiny, impervious surface), polybutadiene (for rubbery toughness), and nitrile monomers (which bind the chains together for additional strength), ABS is commonly used for lightweight injection mouldings such as remote controls, automotive trim, and toys.
* Poor UV-resistance
* Poor stress cracking resistance
* Low water absorption
* Good resistance for diluted acids and bases
* Good oil resistance
* Good scratch resistance
* High surface hardness
* Good impact strength

Polyethylene (PE)

A semi-crystalline thermoplastic with a high degree of toughness and very good chemical resistance. When compared to other plastics, it exhibits low mechanical strength and temperature resistance, however this can be improved by using grades with higher molecular weights. Primarily used in packaging, it is also used in varying grades for piping, chopping boards and even knee replacements.
* Low density compared to other materials
* High impact resistance, even at low temperatures
* Good resistance to wear
* Minimal moisture absorption
* Excellent chemical resistance
* High corrosion resistance
* Non-stick

Polypropylene (PP)

Another semi-crystalline thermoplastic, which resembles HDPE, but exhibits higher strength, rigidity and hardness. PP is, however, sensitive to impact at temperatures below freezing point. The chemical resistance is comparable to PE. PP is widely used in applications from flip-top bottle caps, furniture, rebar supports, and alternatives to laboratory glassware.
* Low density compared to other materials
* Minimal moisture absorption
* Excellent chemical resistance, even to solvents (but this means labels may not adhere to it)
* Highly corrosion resistant
* Relatively high superficial hardness

Nylon 6

Although Nylon was originally developed as an alternative to silk, modern grades of nylon are extremely versatile and can be used in engineering applications such as gears, engine fittings, and even toothbrush bristles. Other grades of Nylon (Nylon 12) are used in cosmetics and sports apparel.
* Balanced toughness and rigidity
* Capacity for hardness level adjustment
* Extremely high impact strength, also down to -40°C
* Good abrasion and wear resistance
* High energy and shock absorption
* No brittle fractures under pressure or impact loads
* Extreme wall thickness variations can be realized in the moulded component
* Ready integration of inserts and reinforcement materials and fillers

For help in readying your design for manufacture, and ensuring that your materials selections are optimal, contact Sated Design and discuss your project with us.

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Choosing Plastics Part 1

adult-toy-plasticsChoosing the right plastic for your application can be a fraught exercise, with many different criteria and considerations to bear in mind. Sated Design have the benefit of 50 years combined experience in designing plastic components and products and can help you navigate this crucial process.

Important factors when selecting polymers:

  • Thermal stress – can your product or component survive service without melting or fatiguing?
  • Mechanical stress (yield strength, tensile strength, fatigue strength, crack resistance) – how strong, durable, rigid or elastic does the material need to be?
  • Tribological stress (friction, lubrication and wear) – how much will the component rub or wear down?
  • Chemical stress (resistance to attack by water/oils/acids/alkalines/detergents/solvents) – can it resist damage from chemicals in its environment?
  • Electrical requirements (resistivity/conductivity) – some plastics are excellent at insulating electricity, which may be vital for meeting product safety requirements. Other plastics allow electrical charge to flow through them, which may be useful for delicate instruments.
  • Optical requirements (light transmission %, clarity, frequency v opacity) – while many plastics are ‘clear’, there are varying degrees of clarity and transmission, which may be crucial for cosmetic or optical applications.
  • Combustibility and burn (glow wire, UL V rating, toxicology of smoke) – the resistance of plastics to burning, and their danger once alight are vital factors in designing safe products. Even the acridity and thickness of smoke can be a consideration when designing for public spaces.
  • Weather resistance (extremes of temperature, water absorption) – will you product be used in a Scandinavian winter, or a summer in the Sahara? Or both? Many plastics will absorb water, which may affect their mechanical performance.
  • Radiation exposure (UV and gamma) – not all grades of thermoplastics are suitable for outdoor applications. Materials that are not UV stable will change both in appearance and molecular structure when exposed to UV, and over time can become brittle, crack, change colour, warp and suffer stress crack formation.
  • Physiological safety (food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, wearable) – some plastics contain or leech harmful chemicals. Strict standards must be met for ensuring that plastic products are safe for humans.
  • Environmental safety (biodegradability, ecological contamination) – PLA will decompose within 90 days to form CO2 and water. PVC does not readily decompose, and when it does it releases toxins.
  • Recycling during production and at end of life – moulding plastics creates waste in the form of sprues and scrap. How this waste, as well as the end product is disposed of are important to consider.
  • Cost for purchase and cost for processing – as well as the cost of the raw material, the amount of time the material takes to fill the tool and cool all adds cost.
  • Processing and handling requirements and manufacturers preferences for drying/handling/masterbatching – special colours, alloys or additives may need to be custom mixed. Degradable plastics and those with hygroscopic characteristics may need special storage or treatment.
  • Special factors – UL yellow card certification, colour availability due to additives, compatibility with adhesives and joining techniques. There are any number of other factors which will influence materials selection, and each design specification is different.

Benefit from Sated Design’s 50+ years of plastics experience to help you make the best selection for your project.

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Is my product idea feasible? Part 2

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Feasibility Studies are a crucial tool in ensuring your project gets off to the best start in the right direction. Catch up on Part 1 of Is my product idea feasible? Which explains the benefits of Feasibility Studies, how to get the best from them and how they help you to visualise the end goal.

3) Understanding Design Standards

It is important to be aware of statutory requirements for your product before you develop your design any further. These standards will govern elements like size, shape, materials, construction, emissions and immunities, and end of life considerations of the product, so having an understanding of them ahead of time is a big advantage. This is especially true if you plan to sell the product in multiple territories, each with different standards. A brief summary based on a cursory investigation should be included. Depending on the product this may include information relating to the following:

“CE, General Product Safety Regulations, European Commission Directives, Underwriters Laboratories (US), Trading Standards, Food Standards Agency, Food and Drug Administration (US), Federal Communications Commission (US), Consumer Product Safety Commission (US), standards relating to children, standards relating to electrical devices etc…”

4) Manufacture and Assembly

It is helpful to be aware of manufacturing constraints for the known components and to get the manufacturers advice during the quotation process to ensure that the design is optimised for performance and unit cost. Other constraints include:

– Geographical location and logistics
– Investment cost and amortisation
– Mechanical requirements of parts
– Manufacturability
– Method of assembly
– Quality assurance

5) Running the Numbers –
Preliminary Costings

To determine a realistic budget for a product, it is important to compile a cost breakdown for tooling, parts manufacture, and assembly from manufacturers. This is normally done by submitting requests for quotation along with part and assembly specifications.

Sated Design can prepare specifications for manufacturers to quote against, and depending on the client’s requirements Sated Design can provide this as a pack for the client to issue, or Sated Design can perform a costing exercise and present the client with a finished cost breakdown.

Sated Design’s feasibility study service can help you to make the best decisions for your business before you take the leap into the industrial design process. Get in touch to discuss your project and begin the journey.

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