Much like SexTech, the manufacturing industry is on the cusp of its latest revolution. Industry 4.0 takes what was started in Industry 3.0 with the adoption of computers and automation and enhances it with networks of smart and autonomous technology that will collect large amounts of data. Through Industry 4.0 it is now becoming possible for these data systems to communicate important information about maintenance, performance and other product insights without any human interaction whatsoever. The consensus from industry experts is that the potential effects of these “conversations” on our manufacturers are huge and will ultimately result in quicker and more efficient, productive operations which will ultimately save them time and money.
The potential of Industry 4.0 is being realised by those organisations who are already adopting these smart technologies. You would not be on your own in assuming that Industry 4.0 is only realised by large corporations but the reality is that smaller enterprises will benefit too. For example, data stored in connected devices like the cloud could allow them access to technology they wouldn’t be able to have on their own.
Moving a few steps back from the point of manufacture, Industry 4.0 has the potential to impact on the entire design for manufacture process. As the Internet of Things (IoT) is realised, valuable data that can be shared on how products are used by the end users (the consumers) will influence how these products are designed and manufactured in the future. This data will be crucial for the early, embryonic stage of product design and New Product Development (NPD). It will be especially relevant to the development of adult toys and pleasure products where this data will be fully accessible through the Internet of Systems (IoS) including apps.
Industry 4.0 is still evolving. For the manufacturing industry the benefits of introducing smart machines into factories are clear. However, on a slightly less positive note, the presence of extensive data will add complexity to Intellectual Property and Design Rights. More concerningly the personal nature of the data recorded from the end users of adult pleasure products will need to be carefully managed to guard against potential data leaks. The laws of how this data will be stored and who it can be shared with will need to be carefully considered and agreed upon before Industry 4.0 becomes too firmly established in product design and manufacturing.
Paradoxically, the data potential of Industry 4.0, if made accessible, could be the catalyst to revolutionising how we operate and share best practices globally. Faced with all this new and informative data relating to performance and efficiency, wouldn’t it be great news for our planet if we were all able to learn from each other and tackle our climate change crisis collectively?
It goes without saying that sharing best practice and knowledge will help to increase efficiency of manufacturing on a global scale and as a result reduce the environmental, welfare and social impacts on our planet.
If you have a great idea for a new pleasure product and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today – we may just be able to help.
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.
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.
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.