A robot sex toy company accused the world's biggest tech show of sexism after being stripped of an innovation award
- A hands-free robotic sex toy won an award for innovation at Las Vegas tech show CES, but later had the prize revoked.
- The Osé personal massager is startup Lora DiCarlo's first-ever product, and originally won the Robotics and Drone category.
- The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which judges the awards, claims the sex toy should never have been considered as it "does not fit into any of our existing product categories."
- In an open letter, the CEO of Lora DiCarlo accused the CTA, which organizes CES, of changing its story.
- She said it originally revoked the award on moral grounds, which she views as sexist considering that sex gadgets aimed at men are prominent at CES.
A robotic sex toy has had its innovation award revoked at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, prompting accusations of sexism.
The Osé personal massager was made by Lora DiCarlo, a firm which describes itself as "a woman-run start-up" that is "determined to change the face of pleasure products."
The company's first product, the Osé, is a hands-free sex toy. In an open letter, Lora DiCarlo's CEO Lora Haddock said the company submitted the Osé for the CES Innovation Awards - and won. But she said the victory was short-lived.
"My team rejoiced and celebrated," she wrote. "A month later our excitement and preparations were cut short when we were unexpectedly informed that the administrators at CES and CTA were rescinding our award and subsequently that we would not be allowed to showcase Osé, or even exhibit at CES 2019."
In a statement sent to The Guardian, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is behind the awards and organizes CES, said the Osé "should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program."
The product originally won in the Robotics and Drone category, but the CTA said it "does not fit into any of our existing product categories."
The CTA did not explain why Lora DiCarlo had been stopped from exhibiting at CES.
In her open letter, Haddock said the CTA kept changing its story, and that initially, it told Lora DiCarlo that the Osé had been disqualified on moral grounds, citing the following rule:
"Entries deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA's image will be disqualified. CTA reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry at any time which, in CTA's opinion, endangers the safety or well being of any person, or fails to comply with these Official Rules."
Haddock accused CES of sexism, pointing to the fact that gadgets geared towards men's sexuality have become a fixture on the show floor. "A literal sex doll for men launched on the floor at CES in 2018 and a VR porn company exhibits there every year, allowing men to watch pornography in public as consumers walk by," she wrote. CES 2018 also featured a display of robotic stripper with CCTV cameras for heads.
"Clearly CTA has no issue allowing explicit male sexuality and pleasure to be ostentatiously on display. Other sex toys have exhibited at CES and some have even won awards, but apparently there is something different, something threatening about Osé, a product created by women to empower women," Haddock wrote.
She also took issue with the notion that the sex toy did not fit into the category it was entered for, calling the assertion "even more insulting and frankly ridiculous."
She pointed out that the Osé was developed in partnership with Oregon State University's robotics lab, adding that the Osé "is the subject of eight pending patents and counting for robotics, biomimicry, and engineering feats."
"Osé clearly fits the Robotics and Drone category - and CTA's own expert judges agree," she added.
Business Insider has contacted CES and Lora DiCarlo for comment.