As you may or may not know, the typical vibrator motor is a simple affair. Most vibrators just have an electromagnetic wheel that spins; a weight on one side makes it spin slightly off-kilter.

How strong the vibrations are depends on how fast the wheel spins, how big the wheel is, how heavy the weight is, and how the toy itself transmits the vibrations — owing to size, shape, material, angle, etc.

Such toys allow for many variations, including insertable toys that rotate, wobble, flicker and even thrust — and, of course, penetrative sex machines are a whole other ball game.

The same basic principle of an off-kilter wheel runs most vibrating consumer devices, including those high-tech toothbrushes your dentist may have pushed on you. And I think it’s safe to say that over the years, plenty of people have found a “dual use” for their oral care technology.

So it comes as no surprise that a Seattle company called Revel Body just acquired a small pile of venture capital to adapt the sonic-toothbrush technology for consumer sex toys, the first of which is called “The Orb” — pictured above.

What does it do? Fuck if I know. Presumably it vibrates, but neither the article about Revel Body on article on nor the one on Geekwire cares to tell us just exactly how it vibrates differently than other high-end vibrators like, say, those of Jimmy Jane (which was similarly VC-funded). Since XConomy says Revel Body plans to have its first products in stores this year, I hope their vibrations are more innovative than their soundbites. From XConomy:

One major difference, which Revel Body is in the final stages of patenting, is the ability to run the vibrator in a range of speeds rather than at a fairly stable rate, such as with the Sonicare or ClariSonic.

Huh? Why are they comparing this to other toothbrushes, rather than other vibrators? If I wanted to brush my teeth or buff my skin with it, I might care whether it’s better than a Sonicare or a ClariSonic.

However, I’d like to masturbate with it; therefore, what I want to know is how does it vibrate differently than existing vibrators…not goddamn toothbrushes?

And as for “the ability to run the vibrator in a range of speeds rather than a fairly stable rate,” if that sounds impressive to either a tech reporter or a vibrator entrepreneur…well, that’s just terrifying. I’m not even sure what they think it means, so it’d be nice if they’d explain it to me. I’m just a caveman — that is, a consumer — so tell me why I would want to put your surely-expensive device on my oh-so-private thingie.

I could ascribe the lack of specifics negativity and an unwillingness to talk about the down and dirty of sex, but I don’t read it that way. It’s simply Hype Repetition, rather than genuine information…and, needless to say, it occurs in every sector of the tech market. Sex toys — particularly vibrators — are products whose inner workings are probably unfamiliar to most of the readers of tech news. But Vibrator Hype shouldn’t get any more of a free pass than Smartphone Hype.

Here’s more from XConomy:

Revel Body’s pitch is that the resonant motor technology allows the device to produce a more vigorous and pleasing vibration, something much more modern and advanced than the old-fashioned devices proliferating the adult market today.

“The big things that consumers don’t like about these products, pretty much the majority of them, come back to the motor,”  [Revel Body founder Robin] Elenga says. “It seems like with a vibrator, you’d want to compete on vibration. But nobody is doing that. It’s kind of a head-slapper when you look at it that way.”

Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to tear into Robin Elenga too badly. Elenga is a company founder. He’s serving as a spokesperson, and is therefore (unfortunately) spouting PR nonsense. That’s in the job description, I’m sorry to say.

But calling most of today’s vibrators “old-fashioned devices” is fairly absurd. I’ve seen vibrators that whirl, twirl, jiggle, and jump. They seem to do just about everything but call themselves a cab.

If the motor is different, that’s interesting news, and I want to know all about it. But just how it’s different can’t be discovered by the company’s press, its supremely uninformative website, or by cruising the various Wikipedia articles on electric motors and toothbrushes. One of the few hits I get on vibration and “resonant motors” is on JimmyJane’s Little Chroma, which promises “deep, resonant vibrations.”

So what is a “resonant motor,” which Revel Body claims is 66% quieter than other vibrators, according to Geekwire? Resonant motors are used in electric cars and other consumer devices, and mechanical resonance is a simple concept…but I’m not sure yet how it applies to Revel Body’s vibrators, and so far it hasn’t been explained to me. Like too many products at the intersection of sex and tech, it smells like hype.

Today’s sex-toy consumers are savvy; they want you to tell them what they’re getting; I find it vaguely insulting to read fluffy estimates of “revolutionary” changes from reporters who can’t be bothered to address relevant questions about the technology’s actual points of difference.

Nonetheless, a couple of interesting points can be gotten from the various stories about Revel Body (which are all, with painful obviousness, derived from company materials). Here’s one, from Geekwire’s post on the subject:

“There were a lot of consumers calling Sonicare saying they were using it as a sexual vibrator, and that kind of made me wonder why would people be using that vibrator,” said Elenga. “It was just this idea that if vibration is better beyond what the existing motors can do, we should try to help it.”


I can personally testify that, yeah, this works shockingly well, assuming you proceed with a certain amount of caution. For what it’s worth, I’ve also seen a Panasonic pore cleanser used on a bound female as a terrifyingly sadistic clit-sucker. See? The Beauty Myth can lead to liberation!

Another interesting point on the Revel Body story comes from Woodward’s account of Elenga pitching the product to investors. (Robin Elenga is apparently male.) Woodward asks, “Since the target market is heavily female. Wouldn’t there be a creepiness factor to avoid?”

Elenga says it’s actually been men who have blanched the most.

“At a couple of groups, virtually every woman in the crowd is smiling and nodding their head. The guys might have smirks on their faces—occasionally a guy would walk out of the room because he was so uncomfortable,” Elenga says. “People would apologize whenever that would happen, but I think it’s good because it shows that this industry is still transitioning into the mainstream. And I think that’s when you want to get into an industry.”