The Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), which is holding its CES show in Las Vegas this week, is under fire for taking back an innovation award it gave to Lora DiCarlo’s Ose personal massager, a sex toy the organization retroactively classified as “immoral, obscene, indecent, [or] profane.”
The mostly female-staffed startup got word from the CEA that it had been named as an honoree in the robotics and drone category. But at the end of that same month, the CTA sent another email saying they were revoking the award.
A CES spokeswoman provided this statement via email:
The product does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program. CTA has communicated this position to Lora DiCarlo. We have apologized to the company for our mistake.
TechCrunch reports that CES has also banned DiCarlo from exhibiting at CES.
Now DiCarlo is appealing the CTA’s decision. The startup’s founder and CEO, Lora Haddock (pictured above), has also gone on a PR offensive. She wrote an open letter Tuesday calling out the CEA for using double standards when giving its awards. She points out that CES has given awards to makers of a number of sex-focused tech products in the past, including B.sensory and OhMiBod in 2016. She also points out that CES allowed a VR porn company to show its stuff at CES in 2017, and that a sex robot for men was exhibited in 2018.
Haddock makes a compelling case for her company’s product:
You see, we’re doing something that has never been done before–we’re making the world’s first hands-free device for the holy grail of orgasms–the blended orgasm. Our almost entirely female team of engineers is developing new 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.
The CTA today announced that it will invest $10 million in venture funding focused on “women, people of color, and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs.”
But no more female sex toys, apparently. CES is a family show.