Coffee & Sex Robots

Over the years we have rejected quite a few design concepts presented to us. Some were dangerous, some were copies of other products and a few were just too far off in the future. Over a cup of coffee we got talking about some of these and very soon got onto comparing how some of the old wish lists we had read for anthropomorphic sex robots compared to what we now know is possible. It surprised us to learn that a fully featured doll is still a little way off but there are some parts of the wish list we could tick off.

  1. Conversational dolls responding directly to the user. using ChatGPT or one of its variants with a bit of programming and specific response preferences would fulfill that.
  2. Animated face. using micro servos and actuators synchronised to speech resulting in a lifelike look and with expressions is already possible.
  3. Feedback. movement and pressure sensors integrated into ‘touchable areas’ and synchronized with verbal and facial output is practical. Adding localised stimulations of tightness, vibration, heat and pulsing begins to close the feedback loop.
  4. Companionship. a life sized, human replicant can be built with any body type and appearance. They can be dressed to suit and the parameters of the conversation delivered through AI can be set to suit the user’s preference.
  5. What else? Hmmm, let’s see.

That could include the capability of complex movement so a robot can share the dynamics and active space of humans by engaging with us when walking, exercising, and caring for us, just as though they too were human. If we consider that companies like General Dynamics, Hanson Robotics and Honda, to name but a few, are making huge advances in this area, then we should conclude this capability is not far away. Sex doll creators are pushing these same limits all the time so whether the human-like sex robot market is fulfilled by the robotics companies, the adult toy industry or a collaboration, is somewhat irrelevant because in the long term we are sure it will happen.

With our coffee cups almost empty we predicted that quite soon we are going to see robots indistinguishable from ourselves and able to do “more than” the ironing or washing up. Would those same robots have autonomy and decision making? The answer is, at some point, it will be crude to begin with and will then develop exponentially through learning. Free will is something we all cherish but possibly not something that would be a part of the makeup for a sex robot, especially when the point of a sex robot is to say yes to everything and to actively play its role.

Smug with our coffee time prediction it then went quiet as the enormity of what we had concluded was possible dawned on us. Just because something can be done, it should not always be done. Who would set the moral and ethical code that controlled what these new ‘beings’ were designed to represent and be configured for? It’s a much bigger topic than can be covered in a coffee break and one that left us pondering over empty cups.



The ElectraStim project.

We were delighted to work once again with our client ElectraStim on a brand-new electro-stimulation device to celebrate their 20 years in the SexTech industry.

Our services can be easily tailored to suit the client and, in this instance we were commissioned to create an external case for the internal electronic components of the new product. ElectraStim had already produced their internal electronic components and had a well-defined specification for the size, shape, style and construction of the case that they wanted so we were able to take their specification and quickly interpret what was required. Read more in our portfolio.

The new KIX product looks great, and we wish ElectraStim every success with launching it into the marketplace.

If you’ve got an idea for a new adult toy product or need a bit of help with refreshing a current one, we can help you on your journey. We understand the drive you have to satisfy the desires of your customers and it’s our aim to satisfy your needs for quality, innovation and product design.
Contact us today.



Avoiding energy poverty

Christmas is coming and on most of our ‘wish lists’ there is bound to be an electronic device of some sort – mobiles phones, big TV, games consoles, smart tech products; the list of those products is endless and demonstrates how significant our dependence on electricity is today.

Currently the electricity that makes our lives safe and convenient is mostly derived from fossil fuels and concerningly there are only so much of those to go around. At current usage levels, oil and natural gas are set to run out in the next 40 years but we all know that our global population is increasing at a staggering rate and with more people, comes more demand. We also live in a world that demands convenience where products wait in sleep mode to spring into action at the press of a remote or call of an app. These devices create a huge background demand on electricity because they are never completely ‘off’.

If we don’t have sufficient capacity in our National Grid to cope with energy demand, the result will inevitably be black outs such as those the nation saw in the 1970s. Can we imagine how catastrophic that will be to our industries as well as our workplaces and personal households?

The blame for this lack of generating capacity, in the UK at least, is a refusal by successive governments over decades to face up to the demands of an out of control demand on electricity and to plan for a capable infrastructure. Here in the UK our power plants are outdated and will be decommissioned one by one throughout the next decade with those planned to come online suffering cost over runs and delays. Staggeringly, there does not appear to be any realistic succession plan for when they go offline and yet we creep closer and closer towards this inevitability and resulting possibility of dealing with the reality of energy poverty.

There clearly is a shared concern from energy providers. After the Government’s latest announcement that all new vehicles need to be Electric Vehicles (EV) by 2030, a report by the Distribution Connection and Use of System Agreement (DCUSA) warned that “electricity networks in Great Britain are not designed to accommodate the significant additional demand of certain consumer devices (such as EV chargers) presents”. This has resulted in new powers being sought to allow energy providers to essentially turn off high-drain devices when demand is too high.

Not an ideal solution for a nation used to the convenience of having access to energy sources as and when they need them or being told to switch to EVs. It literally could mean you wake up in the morning and your EV went uncharged overnight.

The real answers regarding energy generation and policies for fair use remain with governments but in the meantime we all need to assist in avoiding the very real threat of energy poverty and get more used to being a part of the solution.

Product Designers can do our bit too by designing products with zero energy in mind. A movement towards smarter products with the ability to learn and then predict when they will be used by their owner will mean they can disconnect at an appropriate time rather than be on standby.

Let’s create something great together.

If you have got an idea for a great new pleasure product and want to consider how it can be designed with energy efficiency in mind, we will assist you through your journey. Even the most accomplished will require assistance which is where our expertise is invaluable. We work closely with all our clients to ensure they have all the support they need.



Stay safe. Ask the right questions.

Christmas will soon be here and this year it is shaping up to be a Christmas like no other. With another enforced lockdown in the run up to the festive period, a shopping outing to the high street will not be possible. This means that as consumers we are forced to shop online – but without the security of seeing a product before we buy it, we should be on our guard and exercise caution when making an online purchase.

Organisations like Trading Standards have strained resources and sadly this short-sighted approach often leaves gaps for unsafe and counterfeit products to be freely available. We must be clear on this next point – those products are manufactured and distributed by those who have zero regard for the safety of their end users. Therefore, how can you be safer?

Here are our top tips for being savvy when shopping for electronic products online. We encourage you to consider these before you buy, especially when it comes to electronic devices with mains chargers.

1. Do your research
It is important to have some knowledge about the product before you make a purchase. Read up on brands and product models so you can easily spot when a product listing doesn’t appear to be all it seems. Always read listings carefully and watch for typographical errors.

2. Buy from reputable sellers
Well known retail brands may not always be the cheapest but they will have genuine products for sale and these products will be sold with a warranty. If you do buy products from a reseller, make sure you ask them about their supplier quality assurance processes. Reputable sellers should have authentication procedures in place as well as technicians to inspect the quality of the products they are selling before they are listed.

3. Take notice of the price
It is worth running a price comparison between sites – if the product is too cheap, there will be a reason! Check the advertised price against the Recommended Retail Price (the RRP) and question the products validity if the numbers don’t add up.

4. Look out for the regulatory standards
Every electronic product offered for sale by law must display a CE mark, additional granted approvals marks, manufacturer/importer details sufficient to contact them, a country of manufacture, a product type, batch or serial number and the specifics of any ratings such as voltage and class of use. Mains products must come with a correctly fitted and fused mains plug attached.
If this information is not displayed anywhere on the product, then it will not have been manufactured to legal standards.

5. Review the Packaging
Reputable brands and businesses invest in quality packaging so if you receive an item in ill-fitting or very low cost product packaging then it could be a warning sign. Similarly, there should be information enclosed about the safe operation of the product, warranty and the manufacturers contact details.

We can all stay safer if we take a moment to ask why something appears to be such a bargain.



Funding the next great product

The beginning of a New Year can often be the catalyst to make a change, whether it be personal or work related. The phrase “new year, new start” resonates through January and this is especially true when considering New Product Development (NPD). It can take a lot of time and resource to get an idea off the ground, find a suitable market and develop a new product. Even the most accomplished of businesses may require assistance both in terms of funding and in terms of expertise.

Grant funding is one way you can turn to finance your new product idea. The Innovate UK Smart Grant competition opens on the 9th January and businesses of any size can apply for a slice of £25 million. This open UK grant funding programme has a specific purpose of supporting game changing ideas to develop new products that have significant global market potential. The Sextech industry is reportedly worth over $30 billion and estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 30%.

To be in with a chance of winning a grant, the key to your application is to demonstrate you have clearly considered your new product’s innovation, global market potential and the target customer’s needs. This is where utilising a Product Design Consultancy like Hillside could be the key to your success.

We can assist with a feasibility study which will demonstrate to the judges that you have determined whether your NPD is do-able. We can undertake a risk assessment which will demonstrate that you have considered the end user of the new product. We can also assist you with completing your application for smart funding and if successful, most excitingly, we can help you make your ideas a reality, taking your product idea to the point of manufacture when it becomes a market ready product!

Our services can be tailored to suit your needs – we are well adapted to itemise our service and can step in and out at any stage. In our online portfolio you will find an extensive list of successful products we have helped bring to market across a broad range of industries. We have completed many projects over the last 13 years and our skills, experience and expertise are invaluable.

Contact us today

Once you have taken that “new year, new start” leap, it’s important you get it right.



Making your sex toy idea happen

Some of us at one time or another, may have had a new sex toy idea and we thought it could be the next big thing. There’s been a lot of talk in the industry recently that SexTech start ups are shifting away from the phallic shapes towards new and innovative products.

The journey between the initial idea and seeing it on the shelves can be a very rewarding experience. However the road to success is littered with hidden pitfalls. Many companies and inventors struggle, or even fail, to develop a new product without appropriate assistance.

First and foremost, our role at Sated Design is to assist businesses in developing a new or improving an existing product so it is ready for its intended market.

A typical project would include one or more of the following stages:

  1. Review – the idea may be good, but does it tick all the boxes to be a successful and commercially viable product? This is the first step along the road and allows you to decide whether it is worth continuing or not.
  2. Funding – Developing, protecting, manufacturing and distributing a product will require a substantial financial investment. How are the necessary funds going to be raised?
  3. Protecting – There is no point having a great product if a copycat competitor steals your market advantage. What type of intellectual property protection is most suitable?
  4. Developing the product – To take an idea from a rough sketch on the back of a paper napkin to a physical product rolling off the production line involves several stages. From the initial concept sketches, prototyping and testing, to producing data files ready for manufacturing, there are many elements to consider in development of a product.
  5. Selling the product – All the hard work getting the product developed and manufactured will be for nothing if distribution and marketing fails. How are you going to get a good return on your investment?

Even the most accomplished will require assistance with new sex toy ideas which is where Sated Design’s expertise is invaluable.  We work closely with all our clients to ensure they have all the support they need throughout the product development process.

Who we are
Sated Design was founded in 2003.  We are a focused company who want our clients to achieve business success with innovative products that address the key factors of performance, reliability, cost and aesthetics.

We have designed many products within the Adult industry and to date our products have won Best Male Product for ETO, Winner of XBIZ Best Male Pleasure Product, Winner of Erotixx Highest Potential Product as well as several nominations for other Erotica Awards.



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.



The Power of Prototyping

Why use prototypes in your new Adult Toy development?

Providing a link between a world of virtual design and real life, a prototype is a vital way of testing designs. 2D images do have a place in the designing process but there is no substitute for holding something real in your hand, no more so than when developing an adult toy. Our prototypes offer extremely high levels of accuracy and intricacy resulting from the application of modern prototyping techniques such as high resolution 3D printing, computer controlled machining and casting of medical grade elastomers. Our prototyping techniques can provide stunning results.

For a Sex Toy developer, a prototype is a preliminary version of the intended product and can be used not only for user testing but also to sign-off on important factors such as the form and feel of the product, or to inform the designer of necessary adjustments to mechanisms or tolerances of parts for performance and assembly. The prototype can also help the project stake-holders to make the best decisions for the project and optimise the development journey leading up to manufacture and launch. It is therefore vital to clearly define the purpose for the prototype as this is key to how a prototype should be prepared and can save unwarranted work.

Naturally, the final product will be a part of an intimate human interaction, but the sooner that user/product experience is evaluated, then the better that interaction can be. It is impossible to overstate how important prototyping is to ensuring an effective product design and development process, delivering the optimum results and ultimately a great end-user experience.

Here at Sated Design we have in-house prototyping capabilities alongside a large catalogue of external suppliers for all manner of prototyping services, enabling our expert model-makers to produce competitively priced, high-quality prototypes for the Adult-Toy Industry within tight deadlines.

Do you have an idea for an adult toy?

If you do, or if you want to compliment one of your current designs, or are even just looking for a fresh perspective on a current product, please contact the team here at Sated Design.



Chinese New Year – The Year of the Pig

Planning around the Year of the Pig

On the week of February 5th in the UK, hundreds of thousands of people of all nationalities, will welcome the Year of the Pig which will be celebrated with the ringing of bells, the lighting of firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances. No doubt plenty of Chinese culinary delights will be consumed and plenty of elaborate displays watched.

In China these festivities will continue long after the weekend, fifteen days to be precise! Fifteen days when factories close and all manufacturing processes stop for the full duration of this holiday period. Some factories will close for even longer to allow for their workers to travel the huge distances to return to their home towns and villages. It is not unusual for workers to travel for several days to see family and friends they may not have seen for almost a year. The Chinese New year, or Spring Festival is therefore very important throughout China and much of South East Asia; of significant global importance, it is very much intertwined with the UKs business culture and it’s planning.

Whilst lead times are important to a project whatever the time of year, planning and scheduling are of upmost importance when Chinese New Year falls during the production process. The effect this can have on a project’s lead time could cause significant delay and ramifications if not borne in mind at the onset. It can be quite a task to co-ordinate between different regions when moving tools and goods to arrive within a production window. Experience of working with domestic and offshore manufacturers and suppliers coupled with experience of the differing cultures and practices of quite a few countries certainly helps to minimise any delays in production.

At Hillside Product Design, when planning a project, we always make sure to advise our clients of the implications of any decision to work with an offshore supplier. Accurate information derived from extensive past experience and used in conjunction with time compression technologies, proven fast track suppliers and savvy short cuts can deliver a complex project in record times and within tight budgets.

This year has been very busy with several shipments of tools being signed off and we are experiencing a comfortable period of calm and giving ourselves a part on the back. Congratulations and prosperity to our friends in China and we look forward to doing it all again next year.



What happens to E-Waste?

Electronic products are all around us today. In fact if you’re reading this article then you’re looking at one right now. But what happens when these products reach the end of their life, or are made obsolete by newer tech? This is a question with two outcomes, good news and bad news. We would all agree that we absolutely must do something to deal with E-Waste. The bad news is that the results of that process often cause damage we do not see or choose to ignore. The way we deal with our E-Waste must be something we are all made aware of so we really understand the true cost of that new smart phone or TV.

Products like smart phones, IT equipment and home appliances are advancing so rapidly in their capabilities that they become redundant within months of their launch. Many homes and businesses are disposing of old tech products and the question is what can be done with these container loads of E-Waste?

E-Waste contains many valuable materials which can be recovered, such as gold, silver, copper, tin and palladium. The process for recycling electronic goods is similar to other more general recycling processes, following a path of collection, transportation, sorting and separation. Waste is collected and sent to a processing plant where items are manually sorted and disassembled, with parts like batteries removed and sent to specialist facilities.

Items that can’t be dismantled efficiently are shredded into smaller pieces and then spread out on conveyor belts using a shaking process. A high power magnet then sorts out the ferrous metals and further mechanical processes separate the metals from non-metals. A water separation process then divides the remaining plastic and glass materials.

Glass from cathode ray tubes (CRTs) commonly found in televisions and monitors contain more hazardous materials like lead, barium and phosphor. Processing these items is more complex, with extra washing and sorting steps to remove oxides and phosphors and to separate leaded and non-leaded glass.

Smelting is used to recover metals like gold, silver, tin and copper from PCBs and nickel, steel, cadmium and cobalt from batteries.

This is the good news part of the story because it results in a reasonable percentage of resources recovered. The bad news is that the predicted 50 million metric tons of E-Waste produced this year alone will create a big problem despite much of it being capable of being repaired or reused. The majority of it ends up in landfill or is incinerated, E-Waste is often legally and illegally exported to countries like China, India and Nigeria due to absence of more rigorous regulation. Once there, toxic materials like lead, arsenic and mercury leach into the water course, soil and air to become a huge long term problem in the environment affecting plants, animals and humans. The residents of Guiyu in China (an area known for recycling E-Waste) have the highest reported level of lead and dioxin found in people globally.

Out of sight and out of mind is not the way to deal with this problem. There is no easy answer but the majority of us are buyers of electronic products and we need to demand products that are easier to recycle and made with reclaimed material. Only then will product designers, not accountants get to set the design brief for how products should end their life.