A sex tech company had its ‘innovation’ award rescinded after organizers for the Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show has second thoughts.
As the 2019 International CES kicked off on Monday, reports resurfaced about the incident in October when CES organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, took back an Innovation Award presented to Lora DiCarlo, an Oregon-based company specializing in robotic sex toys, TechCrunch reported.
The female-founded company’s product, Osé, formerly known as Vela, is described by the company as “micro-robotic technology that mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels just like a real partner.” It was developed at Oregon State University’s robotics lab which received $1.1 million in funding.
“Vela does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program,” CTA Senior Manager of Event Communications Sarah Brown told TechCrunch in a statement.
A clause cited by CTA in a letter to the company explained how entries deemed “in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with the CTA’s image will be disqualified.
The sex tech company’s CEO Lora Haddock accused CES of a “double-standard.”
“There is an obvious double-standard when it comes to sexuality and sexual health,” Haddock wrote in an open letter, accusing CES/CTA of applying the rules “differently” for companies “based on the gender of their customers.”
“This double standard makes it clear that women’s sexuality is not worthy of innovation. By excluding female-focused Sex Tech, CES and CTA are essentially saying that women’s sexuality and sexual health is not worthy of innovation,” she added.
— LoraDiCarlo Official (@LoraDiCarlo_HQ) January 8, 2019
Kenneth Bass, an attorney for Lori DiCarlo, addressed the issue in a November letter.
“There is certainly nothing immoral about a device aimed at women’s sexual health unless CTA is regressing more than 100 years to an era when women’s sexuality was taboo,” Bass wrote. “The device is also not obscene—it is simply an electronic device with the proper anatomical dimensions to function.”
While acknowledging their frustration, CTA Deputy General Counsel Kara Maser doubled down on the ineligibility of the product.
“We can understand your frustration, but hope you understand that we cannot make an award for an ineligible product, even if your submission was mistakenly allowed in the first instance,” Maser wrote. “We made an error and we are sincerely sorry for the oversight.”
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