Liz Klinger launches smart vibrator with help of UC Berkeley Skydeck

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A team of entrepreneurs has improved upon the traditional vibrator with a newly launched “smart” vibrator — called Lioness — that utilizes a smartphone app to track a user’s information.

Liz Klinger, CEO of Lioness, and her team work out of Skydeck, the campus’s incubator for startups. As a collaborative venture between the campus’s College of Engineering, the Haas School of Business, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Skydeck provides mentorship and guidance to fledgling startups.

Lioness uses five different sensors to track a user’s vaginal contractions, temperature and movement, allowing users to notice patterns of sexual pleasure. The device utilizes Bluetooth technology to transfer the data to users’ mobile devices or computers via the accompanying app, which serves to store users’ personal information and provides arousal curves and suggestions for foreplay.

Klinger explained her conservative upbringing spurred her curiosity to understand the taboo surrounding sexual pleasure. As she and her team members delved deeper into the field of physiological arousal, they noticed the limited opportunities women had to openly and comfortably discuss sexual pleasure, Klinger said.

By launching the mobile app alongside the vibrator, the team was able to create a place where women can freely ask questions, anonymously or not, about their own sexual curiosities.

“We should have better access to this information when it comes to our own body, to know ourselves better,” Klinger said in an interview. “We wanted to create a product that could serve that purpose.”

While this vibrator claims to inform users about their own body and sexual desires, UC Berkeley professor of public health Malcolm Potts, who specializes in the evolution of human sexual behavior, added that vibrators can be beneficial. During the human birth process, the vagina is torn up from giving birth, which makes it harder for females to reach orgasms in the future.

“Vibrators are overcoming (that) evolutionary problem,” Potts said.

The “smart” vibrator took approximately two years to develop, Klinger noted. Although it was initially hard to be taken seriously, the Berkeley community has been very supportive, according to Klinger.

“Berkeley people have taken the leap to believe in us, and it has meant a lot,” Klinger said. “We are serious about this. It’s important.”

Sarah Merrill, a graduate student researching the physiology of female sexuality at Cornell University, praised the scientific benefits behind this product.

“In my professional opinion, a product such as the one Lioness is looking to develop is an important addition to the marketplace both scientifically and culturally,” Merrill said in an email. “This product could provide a service to women by addressing a large gap in the knowledge and practice of female sexuality.”


Contact Roann Pao at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @roann_pao