It’s almost January, which means the tech press will once again be gathering in Las Vegas for the annual CES trade show, where companies present their newest wares for the year and technology breakthroughs that may never make their way into a shipping product.
As its name suggests, CES is (mostly) about consumer electronics — 4K/8K TVs, smart home gadgets, robots, autonomous vehicles, that kind of thing. Yes, these are cool and all, but for me, the most interesting bits are products that are controversial or come out of left field. You know, like sex toys.
Which brings me to Lora DiCarlo’s Osé, a device for “blended orgasms” that’s now available for pre-order on its website for US$290.
For the uninitiated, a blended orgasm is a clitoral orgasm and a vaginal orgasm that happen simultaneously. I’m not going to explain in detail how Osé works beyond the fact that this flexible robotic massager is built to reach the two pleasure points easily and features customisable intensity, speed and movement controls.
And I’m not telling you about the Osé because I’m getting one or have tried one. I’m bringing it up because this is one product that found its initial fame not because of what it’s capable of, but because of what happened at CES.
You see, the Bend, Oregon-based Lora DiCarlo actually submitted in September 2018 the Osé for the 2019 CES Innovation Awards — and it won. However, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES, rescinded the award in October 2018 after determining the gadget didn’t fit into any existing product categories. This in turn meant that Lora DiCarlo was unable to showcase the Osé at CES 2019 this past January.
Thankfully, this is a story with a happy and sensible ending. An open letter from Lora DiCarlo Founder and CEO Lora Haddock, many hot takes from the media, and some policy relook on CTA’s part later, the Osé regained its CES 2019 Innovation Award in the Robotics and Drones category in May.
To be clear, this wasn’t the first time companies brought sex toys to CES (tip: search Fiera Arouser For Her) — and hopefully, this Osé drama was a one-off. Lora DiCarlo probably didn’t envision it in the first place but there’s no doubt the Osé episode played a role in making CTA look harder at CES’ diversity and inclusion problems.
For instance, CTA has since pledged to make CES a more welcoming and inclusive event for all. In July, CTA announced that come CES 2020, sex-tech products will fall under the Health & Wellness product category. To qualify however, the product “must be innovative and include new or emerging tech”. Hopefully, this will encourage more designed for women products to exhibit at the trade show.
The trade org is also going to crack down on “clothing that reveals an excess of bare skin” as well as “body-conforming clothing that hugs genitalia”. The existing ban on pornography will continue and will be strictly enforced, too.