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11 Jan, 2019 16:19

‘Immoral, obscene, indecent’: Sex toy denied robotics award on moral grounds

‘Immoral, obscene, indecent’: Sex toy denied robotics award on moral grounds

The management of US-based sex toy company Lora DiCarlo has accused one of the country’s largest consumer electronics shows of gender bias, after it awarded, then revoked a prize for one of the company’s devices.

“Everything we do is rooted in sex positivity and inclusion,” Lora DiCarlo claims. The company’s products are also crammed full of high-tech robotics. In fact, one of its hands-free ‘massagers’, the Osé, uses micro-robotic technology to mimic the movements of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers to pleasure users not lucky enough to have access to the real thing.

The Consumer Technology Association acknowledged this ‘achievement’, granting Lora DiCarlo an innovation award in the ‘robotics and drone’ category last October. As a bonus, the company got the right to display the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which closes after its last day of exhibition this Friday.

Despite winning the award, the Osé isn’t there.

First, the CTA banned Lora DiCarlo from exhibiting their product on the main show floor, citing a policy forbidding ‘adult’ companies from showing off their wares. Then, also in October, the prize itself was revoked, deemed by the CTA to be “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.”

The organization even added that the product was never eligible for entry in the ‘robotics and drones’ category in the first place.

Lora DiCarlo insists that their product was right at home among other robotic innovations. “Osé is the subject of eight pending patents and counting for robotics, biomimicry, and engineering feats,” read a company statement. “Osé clearly fits the Robotics and Drone category – and CTA’s own expert judges agree.”

The team have accused the CTA and CES of gender bias, claiming discrimination because their product is designed by women and focuses exclusively on female sexuality.

Biased or not, the CTA seems to be inconsistent in the products it declares “obscene.” In 2016, a French company was given an award for developing a vibrator that pulsed along to an accompanying ebook. That same year, OhMiBod, another sex toy company, was named best ‘Digital Health and Fitness Product’ for a kegel exerciser and vibrator.

Even more explicitly, last year’s CES show featured a meet-and-greet with ‘Harmony’, a talking, lifelike, silicone sex robot for men. Designed by pioneering sex-bot company RealDoll, Harmony featured swappable faces and could be remote controlled via app.

“You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused equivalent,” Lora DiCarlo said.

The CTA has given no indication that it will return the award, but there was no shortage of supporters for Lora DiCarlo's cause.

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