A Bend company that makes robotic sex toys says it won an award from the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – then had its award taken away.
The company, Lora DiCarlo, said Tuesday that the show’s organizers decided they were entitled to strip the award because the product was “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with” the show’s image.
“There is an obvious double-standard when it comes to sexuality and sexual health,” the chief executive, Lora Haddock, wrote on the Bend company’s website. She said CES allowed sex products for men but not her company’s “vagina-focused robotic massager for blended orgasm.”
Lora DiCarlo said it learned it won the award in early October, then had the award rescinded by the Consumer Technology Association, the CES’s organizer, on Halloween.
“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,” the association wrote to the Bend company.
The association did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the issue. In letters to Lora DiCarlo, provided by the company, the association contradicted its original explanation for rescinding the award.
In a Nov. 8 letter, association general counsel Kara Maser said the real reason Lora DiCarlo lost the award was because its entry “does not fit into any of our existing product categories.”
CES kicked off Monday night, and the sex toy issue is getting wide play in the technology press, which notes a long history of sexualized exhibits at the industry’s biggest trade show.
Lora DiCarlo developed its technology at Oregon State University’s robotics lab and received $1.1 million in funding through the Oregon Opportunity Zone Limited Partnership, a tax incentive enabled by the federal tax cuts approved last year.
The company has nine employees, split between Bend and its research lab in Corvallis.
The product that won, then lost, the award is the Osé. The company describes it 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.”