Like GPS, but for your sex drive

These days so many of our devices are smart. Our phones are smart. Our cars are smart. Our TVs are smart. And now, even vibrators can be smart.

That’s right. Now a vibrator can provide the data a woman needs to reach her destination free of detours, traffic tie-ups and road rage.

It’s called Lioness. It’s a sleek, sophisticated vibrator that works kind of like a running app on your smartphone, but instead of mapping the distance and terrain of a route, it records a person’s sexual arousal states.

Liz Klinger Lioness 750

Liz Klinger is CEO and co-founder of Lioness. (UC Berkeley photo by Anne Brice)

Liz Klinger is the CEO and co-founder of Lioness. She and her team work out of SkyDeck, UC Berkeley’s incubator for startups. She says her upbringing inspired her to pursue a career in sexual health.

“I grew up in a more conservative family from the Midwest and we never talked about sex,” says Klinger. “And because I wasn’t able to ask questions early on, it only made me more curious to learn more about what was out there.”

Lioness vibrator

Currently, the Lioness is available in a soft gray, but depending on how much funding the startup receives, they can start offering other colors. (Photo courtesy of Lioness)

She started looking for resources, but found that there wasn’t much research available on how women’s bodies worked. So she set out to learn more.

After college, she began working at passion parties — which are kind of like 1950s Tupperware parties, but instead of selling plastic food containers, Klinger sold vibrators and lubricants to women. “I got to talk to a bunch of different women of all these different ages and life stages. So many people had so many questions.”

Some of the questions they had about sex they hadn’t asked before because there was never really a time they felt comfortable talking about it. Klinger says not having a place to talk about sexual health is detrimental to women’s well-being. “It affects their lives — their stress levels, their relationships and that there wasn’t anything that was addressing that, I wanted to do something about that,” Klinger says.

Lioness team

(Photo courtesy of Lioness)

So, Klinger and her team — the two other co-founders Anna Lee and James Wang are Berkeley alums — created the Lioness to get the conversation started.

Betsy Rohney is the community manager. She’s working with Klinger to create a virtual space where people can talk freely about sex. “We wanted to create a community that can talk about these things and feel safe,” says Rohney. “Where women can get reliable information that will help them explore themselves and really know what benefits them.”

Lioness team

Leo Chen is the team’s electronics lead and Anna Lee is the engineering lead. (Photo courtesy of Lioness)

Now, let’s talk about how this smart vibrator works.

There are five different embedded sensors in the device. The internal electronics and operating software are closer to something you’d see in a smartphone than what you’d typically see in a vibrator. Users can connect the device to their computer or tablet via Bluetooth and upload the data they collect, like contractions, temperature and movement. Or they can sync it to their phone in real time.

Over time, women can begin to see patterns in their sex drive — how it might relate to a certain time of day, their mood, stress levels or menstrual cycles.

Klinger says women can also share the information with an intimate partner. “This is another way to frame the conversation,” she says. “As like, this is how my body works, this is just what it is and we can have this more objective conversation about just what do we like, how does the body work for you and me, and how can we work together on this?”

The Lioness launched on Indiegogo this week. It’s now on sale for $189 — $40 off its retail price — to early supporters as a Valentine’s Day special. After the company reaches its $50,000 goal (they’re already more than halfway there after just two days), they’ll start manufacturing and mailing the product to customers.

Update on Feb. 17, 2016: The Lioness surpassed its $50,000 goal in just four days (they’re at nearly $63,000 with a month to go) and plan to introduce “stretch goals” as a result of their success.

Learn more about the Lioness smart vibrator at lioness.io.