Every new year is, to be cloyingly cliched, a voyage of discovery – and if you're into discovering yourself or your relationship, spending 2022 introducing some of the best sex toys into your life isn't going to hurt. But just cramming a bag with dildos and being done with it isn't very 2022: this is a year of change. The best fleshlights will get smarter, the best vibrators (and the best sex toys for men) will get stronger and sleeker, and the way we use these toys is going to change too.
T3 has chatted to the experts and identified the five biggest trends coming to sex toys in 2022. It's a tech-heavy year. Get yourself ready.
Trend #1: the rise of wearables
If connected toys were the trend of 2021, 2022 sees them getting smaller and a whole lot more secretive. Mixing the excitement of a sex toy with the kinky thrill of clandestine public stimulation, wearable toys are due a big rise over the next year as more people open themselves up to trying them and pass their partners the remote. Honestly, what could be a better entrée, main course and dessert for dinner at a restaurant?
There's plenty out there. We-Vibe's slim Moxie, for example, is a remote- or app-controlled clitoral stimulator perfect to slide into one's underwear, with a strong magnet on the outer helping to hold it into place; for guys, the company's Vector prostate and perineum stimulator is flexible enough to stash away while offering the same connectivity. Those are great, but expect even slimmer, more discrete toys with more powerful tools to land in 2022.
Sex coach Cam Fraser thinks remote controlled toys are a solid addition for couples. "They’re great for foreplay," he tells T3, "and allow for edging and submission fun and games to spice things up. App controlled toys give your partner control of when (and how much) you orgasm, forming a fun new dynamic to power play."
Trend #2: connecting in fluid relationships
Remote control does not have to simply mean under-the-table stimulation. New connected toys are changing the way we're able to build relationships, too. "For couples in long distance relationships, app controlled toys are a fantastic way to get intimate," says Cam Fraser. "They allow one person to hand over the reins of their pleasure to the other, regardless of not being together physically."
Erobotics scholar Simon Dubé suggests that connection could go even further, saying connected toys may give us the chance to interact with "artificial companions in virtual/augmented environments like the metaverse and, potentially, go beyond the confines of our home planet - for example, with future astronauts or space inhabitants." That last one may be a stretch for 2022, but we're down for blasting off while blasting off.
Trend #3: guys getting the goods
The past few years has seen the entire sex toy market refocus. Sexual pleasure isn't just about cheap thrills: it's about wellness, about treating yourself well, about embracing your desires and doing the right things to meet them. Male toys have been, perhaps, the biggest beneficiary. The extremes of what really works for guys are coming to light.
"The variety of toys available for people with a penis, and the capabilities of these toys, have seen a huge increase over the past few years," says Cam Fraser. "There are so many options out there, from pumps to sleeves, strokes, vibrators, cock rings and prostate massagers. Sex toys can skyrocket your pleasure and give you orgasms that just aren't possible with a hand or a partner."
Some companies are already experimenting wildly - 2021 saw ArcWave's Ion translate Womanizer's Pleasure Air tech to the tip of the penis, for example, while Lelo's range includes prostate toys which can precisely direct their vibrations to hit the spot and smart toys for which you can literally code your own stimulation routines - but 2022 will see even more sex toys for guys pop up, and even more possibilities explored.
Not all of us are the same, so 2022 also signals a rise in inclusivity. "I see [toys like the Arcwave Ion] becoming an even more exciting area," says Fraser. "There is still a gap for inclusive sextech, with some big opportunities for people with different bodies and different abilities."
Trend #4: AI meets DIY pleasure
The days of basic buzzing may not be entirely behind us, but to ignore the influence of AI in the development of new self-pleasure experiences would be churlish. Simon Dubé is enthusiastic about its potential: "AI may influence the development of new toys, patterns and ideas by progressively providing access to evermore interactive products that can learn from past interactions," he tells T3.
It's been going on for a while - the mental Autoblow AI dropped in 2019, building its simulated blowjob patterns by consolidating a database of volunteer mouse-strokes - and the integration of sensors in devices like the Lelo F1S v2 will surely feed the cloud more than enough information to cook up some perfectly balanced experiences.
That's unsettling, we'll admit. The thought of hundreds of others contributing to your climax - or your own data going off to help others - isn't the most comfortable thing in the world. But we'd certainly expect AI to reach women's toys this year, and we're also pretty convinced that something big is going to arrive in the VR space. Using the right apps an Oculus Quest is already one of the most immersive experiences there is - and the right connected toys could make it something else entirely.
And it's not all about the toys - it's about finding what suits you best. "AI may also inspire the design of products that meet people's needs, desires, or usage-behaviors," says Dubé, "but also help to suggest products to (potential) customers in order for them to explore their sexuality."
Trend #5: Sex toys go environmentally – and body – friendly
There's no question: 2021 started the trend, and 2022 will mark a huge public push for consumer kit which respects Mother Earth. The plastics and silicones of the sex toy world might be a drop in the ocean, as it were, of the overall problem – but switching out your toys for glass or metal could be a very viable option.
That doesn't work for everything – we'd probably need a lot of convincing to try out a glass Fleshlight – but manufacturers are working on environmentally friendly alternatives. Womanizer, for example, has cooked up the new Premium Eco Pleasure Air toy from a bioplastic called Biolene, a biodegradable material made of 70% corn starch.
Standards are tightening, meaning toys will have to pass more stringent tests to ensure compatibility with the body before they hit the market. Look, also, for toys which prove their testing regime is legit; rather something tested again lab-cultured cells than directly on an animal, right?