The We-Vibe is a big hit. As sex toys are changing in terms of design, interface and safety, do you see society’s attitudes toward them changing?
Bruce and Melody Murison spent the better part of the last decade secretly designing the We-Vibe. Bruce, at age 48, took his experience as an ex-Nortel Engineer and put it to work designing a toy that can be used during sex but does not interfere with the act itself. After numerous prototypes, some seriously fun product testing, and a search for a manufacturer the We-Vibe was born. Now with the success of the We-Vibe at hand Bruce is working hard developing the next revolution in sex toys.
Dear Bruce and Melody Murison,
Thank you for visiting EdenFantasys for the interview. We all love your We-Vibe, and it is a real pleasure to talk to its creators. We all hope to learn a lot from this. Here are a few of my questions:
1. To manufacture such an ergonomic sex toy must be quite a challenge. How did you do the testing of it? How many adjustments did you have to make along the way? And would you share with our review community what type of feedback you seek from the We-Vibe's users?
2. What were the most technologically challenging aspects in creating the We-Vibe? How much technological wizardry goes into it? And, just out of curiosity, what's this we hear about you using some NASA technology?
3. As an inventor, you bring new toys to life. How can EdenFantasys, as an extensive community of people who know, understand, and review sex toys, be of any help for your future testing? We would love to be a part of any of your future projects!Greetings,
We went through about 6 distinct versions. With each version, we obtained feedback from "expert" users and used that feedback to modify the toy before making the next version. This took about 5 years. We looked at every parameter including, RPM of high and low speeds, minimum run time, how soft the silicone was, how big the internal and external pads are, their tapered shape, how powerful the motors are etc. etc..
Every factor is a trade off of others. for example if you make the We-Vibe more powerful, it has to get larger to make room for larger motors and unless the battery size increases too - it would not run as long before needing a re-charge. Like building an airplane that is strong but light, the We-vibe is small but powerful. I think it may have the highest power to weight ratio of any sex toy. Much of the experimentation revolved around making the internal arm stiff enough to hold onto a woman while worn, but flexible enough to adapt comfortably to any position the vagina and penis may take during different sex positions.
Technology wise, we had to develop our own custom clitoral motor because no existing motor was small enough and powerful enough. A lot of research also went into the inner flexible frame material. It had to flex during use, but return to its original shape after wards and also be soft so it would never snap with sharp edges if it was abused. We opted for NiMH battery because it is heavy metal free, has no memory issues like NiCad and it had lots of power for its size. It is about twice as expensive as a NiCad though.
We also went t efforts to insure all components are RoHS certified lead and heavy metal free, and we are Carbon neutral by obtaining carbon credits from recommended avenue from the David Suzuki foundation. Medical grade silicone is by definition latex and phthalate free.
see details and health articles on our site: [http://www.we-vibe.com/Health_and_Environment.php]
I can't tell you about or products currently in R&D, but I can tell you that the We-Vibe took 2 years to figure out how to mass produce. Unlike any other toy, the motors and battery are encased in seamless silicone and as such is manufactured using a process we had to develop through trial and error. I spent 2 months in China to perfect the quality and tour the factories for ethical reasons. I wanted to see first hand that the workers were treated well and were free to come and go. I am pleased to report that they are happy to get room and board and are able to save money and support an extended family back home. Typically they are in their 20's and work for 2 to 5 years before going to college or starting their own business. I am also pleased to report that our return defect rate is about 0.2% or 2 per thousand - this is many times better than the industry average of 1% to 3%.
Have you ever had complaints that the We-vibe was too expensive? What do you say to those that have issues with the price?Indeed,
Each We-Vibe is hand cast in stainless mold - this is a slow and expensive process an this is why we have the product made in China. If we made it in North America, the We-vibe would cost more than 200$. The medical grade silicone is about 4 times more expensive than the cheapest materials available.... and we buy the silicone from Europe so we are absolutely sure that the toy is made in China with the specified silicone. The motors and battery are also expensive.,, but the battery should last for 500 charges and the motors are life tested to insure that they last for at least 100 hours when run at 40 Deg C and in 100% humidity conditions. The We-vibe is an investment and we designed it to last for many years of enjoyment. Used every week for 1/2 an hour, a typical We-Vibe may last for about 4 years, some will fail sooner, but many should last much longer. We made purposeful decisions when designing the We-Vibe to make it a quality product. In 5 years we plan on having many different products and we want the world to recommend a We-Vibe to anyone looking for a toy that will last a long, long time.
See Evolution an Design here: [http://www.we-vibe.com/Evolution_and_Design.php]
You have a adequately addressed couples needs with the We-Vibe , Any plans for toys for solo use. Male? Female? bringing couples together is a great thing no question about it but but what do thing of the question below.
I feel There is a need for toys that couples (or non-couples) can use independently to explore their own sexuality, without making the other partner feel rejected or inadequate. Do you have any interest in pursuing such a gaol?We have a huge list of products that we think we can make that are significantly better than what currently exists. So... YES - we plan on making a whole family of products for every purpose, used alone or together, that you can think of and we have some things in mind you have never even conceived of ... yet.
It seems like most of the important questions have already been asked, so …
On your remarkable ten year journey to producing a masterpiece of sex toy excellence, what are your behind the scene secrets to maintaining sanity and focus? What was the thing you turned to when you needed to set your work down for a minute and relax? Hank Williams records, strawberry Yoo-hoo, discharging a firearm?
What was your workspace like? I can’t help but to picture a comic book supervillain's state of the art futuristic laboratory.No secrets... you eat an elephant one piece at a time. A huge project will be overwhelming if you try to figure it out all at once. Take baby steps and keep going. This is why our R&D took so long. The idea for the We-vibe was conceived in 2001, we started prototyping in 2002 and the final design was not ready until summer of 2007. Patience and persistence is my motto.
My lab took over the garage and basement and often the kitchen... but Melody is a patient person. The lab was a little like you see in James Bond with vacuum pumps and hoses and stuff hanging from all vertical surfaces.. and electronic stuff scattered about.
I will take some time to smell the roses in another few months once our company has finished getting the We-Vibe distributed world wide. I need a nice long vacation for sure. Melody and I have been on the road every month for a year to shows around the world and we look forward to going no-where for a rest.
I have a feeling there are some funny stories in the history of this toy’s inception and fine-tuning. Everyone has seen the disclaimer in movies about how “no animal was harmed in the making of this film”, or similarly on the packages of body products…so in that vein, what was the worst (or funniest) prototype “blooper” or human-testing-gone-wrong situation you experienced when traveling the circuitous path that led you to the final product?No strippers were injured during the creation of the We-Vibe. When looking for feedback, after I had talked to all the highly experienced sales people at the sex toy stores in Ottawa, I started going to strip clubs. I was always welcome and found no problem getting eager volunteers to test drive a prototype We-vibe. Melody was very understanding as I headed out to go to "work" at night.
see the story here: [http://www.we-vibe.com/Presidents_Message.php]
With the economic climate as it is, it's been said that inventors are going to have to fill at least some of the gap with newer, safer, more responsible ideas and products. What's your advice to someone who might be looking to invent the Next Big Thing?Get outside business advice and listen to the experts. The inventor needs to focus on the product and get it far enough along so you can show a business person. If you can't convince a business person that your idea is indeed the next best thing... take a long hard look before investing more time and money. If you can convince an outside expert than you are on to something, then keep going. I thought I would have the We-vibe in mass production by Early 2004 !! It took many times longer ( 4 years ) than expected ) Before you go to anyone - get an Non Disclosure Agreement and file a preliminary patent sooner rather than latter. The world is full of very nice people that will steal your idea so you need legal protection.
Okay – as you guys have returned the phrase "cool new gizmo" to the sex toy biz, I've got to ask you an unabashed geek question. If you had to compare yourselves to a fictional inventor, who would you choose – Tony Stark, Lex Luthor, Reed Richards, Willy Wonka, Gaius Baltar, or Bunsen Honeydew?I would go with the TV show character that could fix anything out of anything - My friends call me MAcGyver
I love my We-Vibe, absolutely, not a single complaint yet. The thing I'm wondering about is the battery. The battery cannot over charge, yet if it completely dies it's dead for good. I am now a little terrified that I might fall asleep with the we vibe buzzing on me and that I'll wake up to a dead toy (this happens to me from time to time, but usually a quick charge or battery change will save the day). What made you choose the battery you did for it, and if this tragedy were to occur, are there any options (like battery replacement....kind of like an IPod) other than buying a new one?Good question:
Batteries are not a black and white thing. In general we try to instruct users to charge the battery before the motors slow noticeably. Unlike NiCad batteries that don't mind being run down to dead, the NiMH battery in the We-Vibe would prefer that this not happen. If it does get completely drained it is very very unlikely that it will not take a charge again and stop working. Every time you drain the battery to zero, the battery will loose some capacity.. so it may run 5 minutes less on a full charge than it used to. If you repeatedly drain the battery to zero it will hold less and less of a charge. I do not have data on this because each battery will behave slightly differently when it is drained to zero, but if you fall asleep a few times a year, your We-vibe should not suffer too badly so I would not worry about it.
Because the battery and motors inside the We-Vibe are case inside the seamless silicone, you can not get at the battery to replace it.
We went with NiMH battery because it does not have memory issues associated with NiCad's and NiMH do not contain environmentally harmful heavy metals like NiCad's. The NiMH was chosen because our surveys showed that people wanted a maintenance free toy and did not want to deal with memory issues... if you only use a NiCad for half an hour at a time, it may eventually only run for half an hour... it can develop a memory and no longer run for close to 2 hours. This does not happen with NiMH, but you should try not to drain it to zero, but as I say, if this happens once in a while, it is unlikely to noticeably effect the battery. Draining to zero is a cumulative effect... how dead, how long, how often.. Charge your We-Vibe as soon as you wake up
See Article of our journey [http://www.we-vibe.com/Evolution_and_Design.php]
What feedback have you received from couples who have used the We-Vibe to enhance their relationships? How does that kind of positive feedback help you in designing your next toy?We have many glowing reports and women and couples have made special efforts to thank us. Our favorite quote is "Thank you for what you have done for women kind".
We are encouraged to create more toys that empower women to take control of their pleasure and their sex lives. Women are certainly appreciating clitoral and g-spot stimulation while enjoying the intimacy of making love and women are also liking the We-vibe as a solo toy. Others find it is a great Kegel exerciser because the vibrations help you to locate the muscles and the flexible G-spot arm moves when you flex the internal muscles.
We think that the world is moving to give societal permission for the use of toys to enhance and excite and change things up.
Men appreciate that they are not replaced by the We-Vibe and through this experience may become more open to using phallic toys to help please their partner.
See reviews and press coverage with links below:
Will the fact that you are using NASA Technology to revolutionize sex toys be a factor in the pricing of the Next-Gen sex toys?The next technology will be expensive until we have made millions of toys and then the R&D will be paid off and the manufacturing becomes more efficient and the price will come down. We also plan on making some new toys that are even less costly than the We-vibe. Sorry I need to remain vague at this point.
I'm wondering about the transition from Nortel Engineer to sex toy inventor. Were you always inventing in your free time while working at Nortel? After the We-Vibe took off, how did you decide it was time to take your career in a new direction?I have always been an inventor. I have pursued at least a dozen patents but never brought a product to market before the We-Vibe. The change in career was no different than when I moved from software to electronics to mechanical to planning... change is always tough... but I have always been brave enough to strike out and try something new. I was laid off from Nortel in 2003 and I took this as an opportunity to pursue the We-vibe full time. We lived with no income for years and drained our life savings because we kept receiving excellent feedback from the sex toy and the business community. We did not reach the point of no return until 2006... so if we abandoned pursuit of the We-Vibe we would have survived ( broke ) and went and found a normal job. After 2006 we were committed and either had to get the We-Vibe mass produced and into stores ... or go broke. Since we had investment from many friends and family - we were further motivated to make the We-Vibe a success. Our neighbors used to joke that we could live in their basement if things did not work.. so we are very thankful that the business is now self sufficient and we are generating enough money to start the R&D for the next products.
What was your sex toy exposure like prior to inventing the We-Vibe?Melody and had no real experience or detailed knowledge of sex toys before we started. Maybe the reason we were successful was that we did not come from this industry and we were too naive to know that a toy could not fit between people during sex. although sex toys were not part of our life, we knew they existed. When I first did a web search to loo for toys that fit between a couple I was certainly amazed at the thousands of products and colors and sizes out there..... but after a few thousand hours or research, little out there shocks me any more. We came up with the We-vibe concept while driving from NY city to Ottawa and became delirious after 6 hours of driving. We joked about the ten thousand dollar sex machines and the people with blow up dolls in the passenger seat while driving in commuter lanes... and we had a very innocent 5 second idea of a toy that would fit between a couple while making love. all it took then was 6 or 7 years of 14 hour days and voila .. the We-vibe.
See story [http://www.we-vibe.com/articles/CBC_ca.html]
Where do you see the future of sex toys going? Are you personally going to continue inventing sex toys?Phillips makes semiconductors, TV's and now sex toys. Sex toys will continue to join the high tech world and I for sure intend to be on the forefront by inventing superior products with new "fit, form & function" and I look forward to bring a whole family of "never seen before" toys to the world. This is my little effort towards world peace. We will also stay environmentally faithful and not make anything I would not want a loved one to use. Large companies may get into the picture in a big way and either buy up, or stamp out the little ones. In general smaller companies have the flexibility and agility to produce superior advanced sex toys until they become a commodity and then the efficiency of the large companies allows them to mass produce products for less. The We-Vibe is patented world wide so we hope to be around for a while to produce some amazing toys and make lots of happy people. The electronics in sex toys will be the first thing to advance quickly because it is easy for the big companies to prototype and mass produce sophisticated computer chips .. specifically designed for sex toys.
Even Pleasure can be charted with data... see link
It is stated that you "spent the better part of the last decade secretly designing the We-vibe." Why did you feel the need for secrecy?We live in a small town and if one person knows something, everyone knows. Because sex toys are not really what my mother in law had in mind when I was to "go get a job"... we told no one except business associated people and they had to sign a legal "Do not Disclose" agreement first. We have 3 kids - 2 teenage girls and a boy in Pee-Wee hockey so we also feared the "your kids can't play with mine" sort of thing, and we did not want the kids to get teased because their Dad was the sex toy king of Canada. About 7 months ago, our local news paper ran a front page story and everyone found out all at once. We received nothing but congratulations so the stigma we feared, we are pleased to report, has not happened at all. society has come a long way in the last 15 years. Sex toy use, I understand, has gone from 15% to more than 50% in the population over the last 15 years.
[http://www.we-vibe.com/articles/Ottawa_Citizen_FrontPage.html] Ottawa Citizen Article
[http://www.we-vibe.com/Press_Room.php] Our Press Room
The We-vibe is one of the most sought after sex toys for couples currently in production. Did you have any idea that it would be so popular?We always knew from our research and feedback groups that the We-Vibe was a great device, but we did not know if it would actually sell. We are very happy that the We-Vibe is being well received by the public and the critics alike. We are not really sure how the We-Vibe is selling compared to other top selling, high end, toys because there is not much data and most actual sales numbers are protected by the retailers. We are selling more than 10,000 per month world wide. We hope that sales in Europe and the US will continue to climb, as we have heard that some toys have sold over a million units, we have a ways to go ! Sales in Canada are amazing but we are not sure if this is because there was not much to do this cold snowy winter, but stay in and have sex, or if this is a sort of "home town advantage" and the public is supporting a small town couple who are breaking into the big leagues. Can't wait to see how the We-vibe is received when we give it away to the stars Feb 20 and 21 while they gather for the Academy Awards on Feb 22. We hope the A list celebrities like it as much as Canadian do !! Should make for some good pictures for our web site
Have you had to deal with other manufacturers trying to copy the We-vibe's design?Not yet, but our lawyers are waiting. We have a patent in most industrialized nations world wide; which should help. The We-Vibe is not made using the same manufacturing process that other sex toys use, so this should slow down the copy cats as well. A copy cat would have to spend a lot of money to develop the tooling and manufacturing process and at the same time they would know that their shipments could be seized if we found them, so we hope our patent remains respected.
See link to patent
Did you set about designing the We-Vibe to fill a personal need or was your focus outside of yourselves?I have looked for the perfect invention for more than 25 years and looked at this as a business from the very start. I discover through the process that it also fulfills a personal aspect as well, but from the start the We-Vibe was viewed by me as an electro-mechanical device that needed to be designed to meet a variety of criteria; most significant of which is the human dynamic related to pleasure. The engineering part was easy compared to figuring out what women like because every woman is different. The spectrum ranges from the very sensitive to the Hitachi wand girls that can't get enough power unless the lights dim when you plug it in... so making one device that will satisfy all is a trick and the engineering therefore is filled with competing factors and compromises. So far we have learned that the magic wand group would like more power and there are some very small women that find the We-Vibe too large. Future products will benefit from the feedback we continue to get. The vast majority of women find the We-vibe power enough and the size to be about right. We are happy that the We-Vibe has lived up to our lofty expectations for women... and...Every man so far has agreed that a vibrating vagina is "not a bad thing"
What motivated you to create the We-Vibe and to transition to the sex toy industry?Food.. paying off our debt... an outlet for my creative side. The high tech industry has been decimated in Ottawa and the only solution was to create our own jobs or move and moving is too stressful
The relationship between the human body and technology is constantly changing. As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace we have become increasingly comfortable with it as part of our daily lives. As an engineer what kind of relationship do you feel you have with technology? Can we become too dependent on it to satisfy our needs both in and out of the bedroom?There have always been fears that robots will eventually run our lives. This did not happen when the dish washer and dryer came along and I don't think it will happen with sexual devices either. This is not to say that sex toys can't get better ( I know they can ) My relationship with technology has not changed. The trick is to figure out what the human body wants and then engineer a solution. Sometimes current technology is not adequate to solve the engineering problems and this is what drives the inventive process and this is where finding a solution ( that does not currently exist ) is such a rewarding process. It is however 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
See chart of human ppleasure vv power and RPM for sex toys that currently exist.
Charting pleasure [http://www.we-vibe.com/Vibration_Curves.php]
and for you techno - nerds a 3D model of the We-Vibe... have at it [http://www.we-vibe.com/3D_Model.php]
You came to adult novelty market when most of it had been divided between larger companies like Doc Johnson and California Exotic. In the future who do you think will be dominating on this market: small manufactures with quality products or big mass production companies?I think that the world is trending towards large companies and this will likely continue in the sex toy industry. The inventive process is best carried out in very small incubation teams and small companies are often the first to market and the most able to come up with new devices, but small companies don't stay that way long. Upstarts tend to either grow rapidly, as we are, or fail, or get bought by larger companies. I'm fine with all options except the failure bit. We keep our financials conservative and have a war chest in case we need cash to defend our intellectual property. we plan on developing a family of new products and thereby grow into a medium size company over the next few years. We have the very best financial and business minds we hire the cream of the engineering world to help turn my wild ideas into mass produced devices that we hope will make a lot of poeple very happy and satisfied. I like it when I hear about people falling asleep with their We-Vibe still running... you know they have enjoyed them selves and that is our prime directive... content and happy people. .
Was there a big party at Standard Innovation Corp when the We-vibe was voted "Top Toy of the Year" by Sue Johanson's Talk Sex viewers?We did raise a glass of wine, but that was a very busy time and we had no time to linger in the recognition. The first time we actually reflected back and said... Wow... I think we did it... was when we won the "Most Innovative Product" in Germany at the e-Line awards. This is the biggest show of its kind in the world. We went up on stage to receive the award, under the lights, with thousands looking on; I did the 30 second acceptance speech and had pictures taken etc... once it was over we looked at each other and took a deep breath... we have been working so hard, for so long... and we finally took a few minutes to reflect with the realization that we had actually managed to bring a truly unique product to market and the world seemed to really like the We-Vibe. Wow. Of coarse we went right back to work the next day. I hope that the dust will have settled in a few more months and we can take some time off... while I devise the next evolution in the sex toy world.
Interesting article reveals some hints of what is to come [http://www.we-vibe.com/articles/Gizmodo_Nasa-Sex_We-Vibe.html]
I had the pleasure of being the first reviewer on EF to have the opportunity to review the We-Vibe, I know that it has been very well received amongst reviewers here. When introducing the We-vibe into the sex toy market what initial reactions did you receive from distributors and press?
We were amazed that the distributors and the press were eager from the get go. I think that this toy industry was ( is ) starved for truly innovative products, so when one does become available, the industry quickly recognizes this and is eager to accept with open arms. The press is a little intimidated because it is a sex toy, but we have had some TV and radio coverage that we are very thankful for. We hope to expand the mainstream media uptake in the US by going to the Academy awards and giving all the stars a We-vibe.. we will see what happens
TV news [http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-5031976477506417153]
Academy Awards Press Release [http://www.we-vibe.com/articles/Oscar_Press_Release.pdf]
Radio spot,,, did you hear this in your city ? [http://www.we-vibe.com/articles/We_Vibe_Radio_Promo.mp3]
What's your family think of your new career path? Do they all proudly endorse the We-Vibe?We are very relieved and happy to say "Yes" our friends and family are proud of the We-vibe and many are relieved that things are going well because they invested years ago when the We-Vibe was little more than a twinkle in my eye. The kids basically ignore it, but our friends always want to know where we are flying off to next, and are eager to hear about the latest markets opening up in Europe or other exotic ( compared to Canada ) places in the world. Our friends and family are most happy that the business has not gone flop because, although we get along well with everyone, they don't want us living in their basement.