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RevelHMI has adapted its sonic vibration technology, originally developed for the Revel Body device (above) for use in smartphones, smartwatches and other devices.

From online commerce to streaming video, many technologies have made their mark in the adult industry before expanding into other markets. Now, the maker of a popular line of sex toys is positioning its technology as the next to make that leap.

The Seattle-based startup behind the Revel Body vibrator, an award-winning sex toy inspired by the Sonicare toothbrush, says it has adapted its high-performance resonating motor to power the increasingly sophisticated vibrations in devices including smartphones and smartwatches. The company is planning to license the vibration technology for use in a wide variety of devices.

RevelHMI, as the company is now known, says its patented technology promises to be more efficient and powerful (and delivered in a smaller form) than the vibration motors commonly used in consumer devices today.

The expansion of the company’s business coincides with a broader evolution in the way people interact with devices. Smartphones are expanding beyond basic alerts — the phone buzzing in your pocket — to provide precise vibrations when users touch the screen, for example. Apple has begun to popularize this approach with the “Taptic Engine” that powers its Force Touch technology in the latest iPhones, MacBooks and the Apple Watch.

RevelHMI founder and CEO Robin Elenga
RevelHMI founder and CEO Robin Elenga

RevelHMI’s new licensing approach aims to capitalize on that trend. The company is in talks with a variety of consumer device makers, said Robin Elenga, the CEO and founder, in a recent interview.

RevelHMI also plans to keep a presence in the sex toy industry by licensing its technology to other vibrator makers. But given the hundreds of millions of smartphones sold each year, the shift to a broader licensing model gives the company a much larger potential market.

“That was the intention the whole time,” Elenga said. “Revel Body gave us a chance to be in the market, and gave us time to work on this technology.”

RevelHMI says its technology improves on existing resonating motors by allowing the frequency to be adjusted. The company is also aiming to differentiate itself by offering an integrated, optimized system of actuators and drivers. RevelHMI has also taken steps to miniaturize the system, such as printing the drive coil directly onto the circuit board.

Apart from helping devices to be thinner, one advantage of making the technology smaller is the ability to have multiple sources of vibration in a single device, such as actuators in each corner of a smartphone.

The company, founded in 2010, has raised a total of $3 million so far, Elenga said, and it’s currently in the midst of raising another financing round.

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