The day after my column on male sex toys came out, one of my friends sent me a feverish text. “Have you seen this?” he asked. “It’s the world’s first guybrator.”
The minute I clicked on the link, I knew I had to do a Q&A with its inventor. A chameleon sex toy, the Pulse III Solo can be used not only as a vibrator, but as a masturbation sleeve, and its cousin, the Duo, additionally wears the hat of being a hands-free couples sex toy.
But what’s particularly clever about Pulse III is that it incorporates medical technology that has helped men with spinal cord injuries and erectile dysfunction have orgasms. Indeed, new, unpublished research from my colleague Dr. Erik Wibowo at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute suggests that incorporating sex toys, like Pulse, for therapeutic purposes can help men lead fulfilling sex lives.
As the CEO and founder of UK-based Hot Octopuss and the inventor of Pulse, Adam Lewis has been an outspoken proponent for #SexNotStigma while using cutting-edge technology to improve and innovate the male sex toy game. Here, we discuss Pulse’s innovative technology, how it induces orgasms and why sex toys should look more like iPhones and less like, well, toys.
The technology behind Pulse is a game-changer. What made you decide to incorporate medical research into your designs?
At the time, I was experimenting with different homemade devices, which included a [female] vibrating egg, and I myself really enjoyed vibrations. So I went online and, to my absolute amazement, nothing of the sort existed at all. I realized if I like vibrations, surely, by the fact there are billions of guys in the world, there’s got to be other guys that would like that sensation.
About four or five months into the early stages of this project, I was looking on the internet and I came across this medical report that talked about a technique [that helped] men with spinal cord injuries ejaculate so that they could have children. As it turns out, my idea wasn’t so ridiculous; in fact, they were using a form of vibration—specifically, oscillations. It was a proven medical procedure that they had been using in medicine for 10 years in order to help this group of men.
We were able to license the technology off them. And that’s how the idea of a vibrating toy turned into adapting a medical device into a recreational product.
You’ve talked about wanting sex toys to be more aesthetically pleasing and less seedy. How did you go from what was used in the medical community to something very chic and refined?
We always knew we wanted to create a lifestyle brand that makes sex toys, as opposed to a sex toy brand that tried to pitch itself as a lifestyle brand. There was a huge gap for high-design products that did not look phallic, that weren’t purple and pink and turquoise. If you looked at the products that people covet in their home and around their lives—their cars, their iPhones, their iPhone cases—these were lifestyle-type colors. We felt a lot of the sex toy industry wasn’t in line with that.
Until you’ve gotten a car, you never quite realize what you’re missing by only walking. Male sex toys are like that today.
CEO of Hot Octopuss
We wanted [Pulse] to look like a piece of tech—like a piece of design that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with [being] a sex toy. We went and approached design manufacturers, people who designed furniture, household products, cool watches. We wanted to marry our idea for creating something really, truly tech and lifestyle with a design agency that knew just that.
With the oscillations, how is the technology different from what you’d find in a typical vibrator?
The premise of how the toy works is a million miles to how [a] conventional male or female vibrating toy works. If you look at how female vibrators work, they have a motor inside the product that has an eccentric weight—an off-center weight—and when that weight spins, it causes everything to shake. That’s how conventional vibrators work.
Pulse works incredibly differently; it has is a piston attached to a platform—we call it the PulsePlate—and this causes this PulsePlate to move up and down. The device works by tapping against the frenulum [one of the most sensitive parts of the penis] as opposed to creating a vibration. The way it oscillates is, it actually travels a distance. The Plate actually goes up and down about 1.5 millimeters every time it taps. Vibrators don’t do that.
Conventional vibrators don’t work particularly well on male bodies. [They] are low amplitude, very tinny-type vibrations, and they feel great, but they’ll never induce orgasm in men. What you need is very high amplitude, very deep and bassy vibrations.
Where are you taking Hot Octopuss next?
In terms of our product portfolio, we’re looking to never create anything conventional; to innovate continuously. This is relatively rare in our sector. One of our  products potentially might be using memory foam as opposed to the hard plastics, the silicones, glass or the steels that are the conventional materials used in our space. We’re constantly looking at other sectors, at what materials are being used, what vibration technologies [are] being used, and seeing whether or not this could actually be adapted and applied to a sex toy.
For guys who may feel hesitant about going to a store and purchasing one for the first time, what would you say to them?
In the world today, you don’t have to actually go into a store. You can go online to buy one. You know, it’s like a man saying to himself, “Why do I need a car if I can walk? Both are modes of transport.” And yes, walking’s great, but until you’ve gotten a car, you never quite realize what you’re missing. Male sex toys are like that today. There’s [technology] out there that can create sensations and deliver orgasms that no human could do on himself.
I tested out the Pulse III Duo with a special someone, and as much as I like to leave a bit of imagination when it comes to the details of my sex life, I will say it was an incredible experience.
So, I’d highly recommend keeping your eye out for several new products Hot Octopuss will be releasing this year, including a selection of cock rings, entry-level guybrators and the Queen Bee, a female vibrator that takes Pulse’s technology and adapts it to suit a woman’s body, that will undoubtedly make any lady in your life very, very happy.
Debra W. Soh is a sex writer and sexual neuroscientist at York University in Toronto. She has written for Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail and many others. Follow her on Twitter: @debra_soh.