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Engineer, 31, ditched Amazon job to spend seven years building world’s first ‘smart vibrator’ 

A Berkeley-educated engineer who grew up in a ‘very religious family’ in Korea has revealed how she ditched her job at Amazon to build the world’s first ever ‘smart vibrator.’

Anna Lee, 31, from California, moved to Korea when she was a baby before she returned to the US at the age of six, where she grew up in a ‘very religious and conservative family.’

She studied mechanical engineering at Berkeley but after landing a job at Amazon, she began wondering if she could feel ‘fulfilled’ by the work. 

She met the founder of a sex toy company at a party and, inspired by their work, set about launching her own ‘smart’ sex toy. 

The tech entrepreneur, who was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2020, spent the next seven years developing Lioness, a vibrator she compares to a sexual ‘Fit Bit.’

It is not known if Anna has a partner but she recently told podcast We’re Having Gay Sex that she was pansexual, saying: ‘I’m in an exploratory phase and having fun. The world of play parties has happened…I’m having a good time.’ 

The $230 Lioness vibrator uses an array of sensors to detect changes in temperature, contraction, and positioning, allowing it to create a personalized profile of a person’s sex drive.

And, once it’s gotten to know its owner, Lioness can also make recommendations based on the feedback.

Anna Lee, 31, from California, has revealed how she ditched her job at Amazon to build the world’s first ever ‘smart vibrator’

The tech entrepreneur, who was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2020, spent the next seven years developing Lioness, a vibrator she compares to a sexual 'Fit Bit'

The Lioness product

The tech entrepreneur, who was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2020, spent the next seven years developing Lioness, a vibrator she compares to a sexual ‘Fit Bit’ (left, in development in 2016, and right) 

Anna, who was born in the US before moving to Korea as a child, has spoken of having a 'very traditional and conservative upbringing'

Anna, who was born in the US before moving to Korea as a child, has spoken of having a ‘very traditional and conservative upbringing’ 

Anna was born in California to Korean immigrant parents, who came to the US ‘with nothing.’

When she was a baby, they moved to Korea for six years with her family.

She then returned to Torrance, where she grew up ‘living the LA life’ until she turned 18. 

Speaking to itsyozine.com, Anna explained: ‘I got into UC Berkeley, where I decided to study mechanical engineering. After that, I joined Amazon Lab126’s concept engineering team.’

The 31-year-old has previously spoken of how her Korean parents moved to the US 'with nothing' before having her

The 31-year-old has previously spoken of how her Korean parents moved to the US ‘with nothing’ before having her 

The first Fitbit for vaginas: How does it work?

Lioness explains that sexual well-being is just another component of healthy life, on par with eating, sleeping, and breathing.

The vibrator works using built-in sensors and an accompanying smartphone app, according to the IndieGoGo page.

‘Inside this vibrator are embedded sensors that can measure your arousal and orgasm states so you can learn different things about your sexual health, like how it correlates with things like the time of day or your mood or your menstrual cycle,’ explains Co-Founder and Lioness CEO Liz Klinger in the IndieGoGo video.

Embedded sensors will collect data while a person uses the device ‘as normal,’ and will record up to 20 sessions.

Then, when the vibrator and app are on at the same time, the data will sync.

The app can then make suggestions on different aspects of the sexual experience, including recommended foreplay time.

It also aims to help users understand how their sex drive changes in relation to their menstrual cycle.

Using the app, Lioness users can adjust the vibration strength and even share the data with a partner.

Once a person begins using the smart vibrator the Bluetooth will turn off, as many people are not comfortable with the idea of it being on during the activity.

Coupled with the integrated technology, the design of the vibrator itself aims to optimize the experience.

It is body-safe, rechargeable, and water resistant according to the page, and gives users a ‘new mindset of ‘what else should I try?’’  

She said she felt ‘very lucky to have found that space’, calling it ‘a big corporate setting’ which ‘gave her the taste of how to iterate quickly, do concepts, and pitch.’

However she confessed she felt a pressure to have a corporate job so that she could provide for her family. 

She continued: ‘So I did it for a couple years, and I thought if I have to do this for another 30 years, am I going to feel fulfilled?’

The 31-year-old was at a party in San Francisco when the founder of a sex toy company told her that vibrators are often tested on your nose, ‘because that’s what a clitoris felt like.’

She told GroupSimata: ‘Before I was even involved with Lioness, I remember meeting a male founder of a female vibrator company and thinking to myself how he could understand the product he was creating.

‘It’s funny because almost pre-empting my thoughts, he started to explain how the industry standard of what vibration on the clitoris feels like is comparative to the tip of your nose… and it was at this moment I realised how much Lioness, and a female-led team was needed!’

Having left feeling inspired, Anna set about starting her own firm with co-founder Liz Klinger.

While working full time at Amazon, she decided to launch Lioness, explaining: ‘I went to work during the day at Amazon, and then went to Berkeley to work on Lioness when it was a start-up, and I would come home at 3 AM. I would do that every day.’

Ultimately, she decided to quit her day job after she woke up at noon having slept through all her alarms.

However she ‘didn’t tell her mother’ she had quit her job, adding: ‘It was the feeling of an Asian parent that’s given you as many opportunities as they could, and it felt like a huge let down to say “I’m going to work at this start-up, I am not getting paid, and I am not getting health insurance. It’s going to be fine!” ‘

Meanwhile she confessed working on something ‘so sexual’ was ‘tough.’

Eventually, Anna felt forced to tell her mother after she came to visit her office in Northern California. 

She said: ‘After I explained why it was important she was really quiet. 

‘I was nervous she was going to be upset. 

‘But she said “when I was younger I used to have a vibrator.”

‘And then for the next two hours she was telling me about her sex life, and it was the most beautifully disgusting conversation I’ve had with my mom.’

After studying at Berkeley, Anna took a job at Amazon for two years - but quickly began to feel unfulfilled

After studying at Berkeley, Anna took a job at Amazon for two years – but quickly began to feel unfulfilled 

Initially, the entrepreneur tried to balance working on the project with her full time job at Amazon - before she ended up quitting the tech giant

Initially, the entrepreneur tried to balance working on the project with her full time job at Amazon – before she ended up quitting the tech giant 

Meanwhile speaking to HerCampus, she said: ‘My friends are very amused. My brother has always been supportive since day one.’ 

The company raised $1.4 million from Creative Ventures and early stage angels, and it officially launched the first product, the Lioness Vibrator in August 2017. 

Anna has now become convinced the company could help women ‘close the orgasm gap.’

Meanwhile she has also found fame promoting female sexual health and products on TikTok. 

The company raised $1.4 million from Creative Ventures and early stage angels, and it officially launched the first product, the Lioness Vibrator in August 2017

The company raised $1.4 million from Creative Ventures and early stage angels, and it officially launched the first product, the Lioness Vibrator in August 2017

The 31-year-old has amassed an incredible 9.1M Likes on the platform, where she often shares tutorial videos and information about the company. 

In one video, which has amassed over 19 million views, she speaks about masturbating with a shower head while living with her parents. 

But speaking to The Times, Anna said there was still much she wanted to research about women’s sexual wellbeing.

She explained: ‘We still know very little about female sexual dysfunction, because we don’t ever study it. 

‘So much money has been poured into erectile dysfunction, compared with female sexual wellness. There is very little data out there.’

After she launched the sex toy business, Anna said her friends and family have both been equally shocked by her decision

After she launched the sex toy business, Anna said her friends and family have both been equally shocked by her decision 

Meanwhile she has also found fame promoting female sexual health and products on TikTok and has over 8,000 followers on Instagram

Meanwhile she has also found fame promoting female sexual health and products on TikTok and has over 8,000 followers on Instagram 

Yes, yes, yes! How women have three kinds of orgasm… and they are categorised as a wave, an avalanche and a volcano 

It was never mentioned during that memorable restaurant scene in the film When Harry Met Sally. But women typically experience one of three types of orgasm, a study has suggested.

Researchers found that when their female volunteers climaxed, their pelvic floor muscles predominantly showed one of three patterns: A ‘wave’, a ‘volcano’ or an ‘avalanche’.

Lead researcher James Pfaus, professor of neuroscience at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, said the names refer to the way the ‘pelvic floor movements appeared during the build-up to orgasm and the release of tension at orgasm’.

‘The wave looks like undulations or successive contractions of tension and release at orgasm,’ Professor Pfaus said.

‘The avalanche rides on a higher pelvic floor tension with contractions that lower the tension downward during orgasm.

‘The volcano rides on a lower pelvic floor tension but then explodes into tension and release during orgasm.’ 

 


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