Jimmyjane Founder Discusses 'Reinventing the Vibrator'

Oct 1, 2013 10:30 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO — Jimmyjane Founder and resident design guru Ethan Imboden sat down with a reporter from tech site AllThingsD to discuss his company's role in “the reinvention of the vibrator.”

As the piece points out, Imboden, who has been reffered to as the Steve Jobs of sex toys, was groomed in the mainstream, designing highend cellphones, footwear and furniture for ubiquitous brands like Motorola, Nike and Herman Miller. He was driven adultward by a market demand — he was shocked by the brash aesthetics of existing products — and by the desire to make a difference, using the power of design with a capital D.   

“I think the reason I became so intrigued by this category is that it seemed to me an ultimate case study in how much impact design can have, not just in reshaping a product or a product category, or even an industry, but in reshaping the perception of all of those things together,” he told AllThingsD. “You know, changing fundamentally the consumer’s understanding of an experience of a very important area of their lives.”

With his hello touch and other products regularly breaching mainstream media avenues, Imboden seems to have gained some traction in his quest. His Q&A on AllThingsD amounts to a philosophy of sorts: Imboden believes that sex toys should essentially be felt and not seen, so that the toy can enhance human connection rather than become the focal point of a sexual experience.

“We focused on the user experience. We wanted our products to be about the person, not the object,” he said. “We wanted to create an object of desire, but one that fades into the background in support of a connection with oneself or with a partner.”  

Essential to Imboden’s “tao” is the minimalization of anatomical forms and gender markers to promote general minimalism. Hello touch is modest in design, with its vibrating white pads strapped (fading) into the users’ finger tips. Jimmyjane's Form line of pink vibrators would look natural (and undetectable) on an Ikea-bought coffee table.

Jimmyjane’s future design plans don’t include teledildonics, which Imboden believes is not really what people want. Instead, he hopes to suture technology and the human body together in a seamless, symbiotic form.  

He concluded the interview: “These days, I’m thinking a lot about mapping technology onto the body in a way where the technology can really disappear into the experience. I think a lot of what I’m intrigued by right now is more vibration and more sensation, less vibrator, and it’s less and less about the object — it’s more and more about the experience, or dematerializing the tools of the vibrator, if you will. There’s this bridge between technology and the reality of humanity. I think that’s what Jimmyjane does really well, and that’s where we’ll continue to go.”

To read the complete article and Q&A, click here.

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