ARS Technica Live with Ti Chang from Crave

Annalee Newitz and Cyrus Farivar interview Ti Chang co-founder of Crave where they discuss the Crave line up,  Ti’s job as an industrial designer and how that lead her into designing sex toys. She made the realization that so many vibrators are terribly designed  and that was the beginning of Crave.

They discuss various Crave products such as the Duet and why and how they are designed. Charging vibrators by USB connection is something that Crave has really explored and also has a higher end version of the Duet that allows for storage on the USB charger so women can save their “private data” in a secure way.

Cyrus directly questions Ti regarding the idea of teledildonics and she mentions that anything they might want to work with is still to be decided. So who knows what we might see from Crave in the future. Ti notes that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should and  it’s not worth it to rush a product. When it comes to product testing they have a lot of online testing that they conduct and offer a questionnaire for their product testers to fill out. They keep testing and if a product doesn’t pan out then it doesn’t pan out and will be rejected due to a lack of functionality or other reasons Crave doesn’t want to create a super dildo that is the best of the best, just to create high quality products that deliver what they say they are going to do.

They also talk about  how exactly the creation process begins and how it is collaborative between the designers and the engineers. The most important product question that they ask themselves is why does this product have to be here, what can it do that other products can’t? Also they touch on production and how that works in their factory in San Francisco and how they work with Chinese companies to get things that simply can’t be made in the U.S. nearly so well. The Vesper is  one of the productions that is manufactured in China and that lowers the price point to  about $69 (on their website) from what would be a $100 or $200 dollar toy if it were manufactured in the United States. Moving on from that they have used both crowd sourcing and crowed funding in order to get things off the ground and get some feedback from the people who are interested in such things. Customer feedback and service appears to be a very strong point of focus that is integral to making sure that they have happy customers. Providing a more luxurious thoughtful gift can be something that may be less shaming or embarrassing.

What’s the idea behind the vibrating necklace, the Vesper? The ideas  all come from different places, but in this case they were looking to openly embrace their sexuality and fashion is a way to embrace that femininity and the idea of the Vepser was born. It really resonated with many women and it has become a popular toy that Ti does see people wearing it “out in the wild.”

Overall this is an informative video and goes trhough the interesting process of discussing the formation of Crave, the idea of sex toys being more luxurious, and generally how manufacturing happens. Ti’s response to gender marketing she says that the company is half and half and how one of the lead engineers is female.

Later in the video the idea of an “old boys” club comes up as being a large part of the porn industry and women are often more involved in marketing rather than design. This means that many toys are designed after what men know, which can basic and traditional and somewhat boring. They have scantily clad women on their boxes of some of their products, but over the last decade the industry has been moving more into a female centric industry.
It is growing to be a more serious product industry and looking more into what women want and are taking that into consideration.

Back to product testing, they will send out small numbers of prototypes and gradually increase that number to allow more testing from their testers. Ti indicated earlier that if you’re interested in becoming a tester to tweet her @DesignerTi and she possibly can hook you up. I tweeted her almost immediately as the toys that Crave makes are interesting to me from both a design and use point of view. We’ll see what happens if I get the chance to review something cool from their line up.

Overall this was an interesting and informative video to watch and taught me more about the sex toy industry, how it works, and what the future of Crave it might hold. You can find the link to the video at the top of my page and for anyone interested in sex toys, design, marketing, or any other aspect I would call this a must watch video.


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