The exchange, which occurred in October, resurfaced Monday night as the 2019 International CES kicked off.
Sex toy company Lora DiCarlo's robotic massager, called the Osé, was developed at Oregon State University's robotics lab and bills itself as a "product designed for hands-free blended orgasms" that uses "advanced micro-robotics" to mimic human touch.
More than 180,000 tech industry executives, analysts and investors are set to descend on Las Vegas, Nevada, from January 8-11, for CES, the world's largest consumer technology trade show.
Now the startup's founder Lora Haddock has hit back in an open letter published earlier this week detailing the different explanations from the organisation that have been given for revoking the award. But what makes the DiCarlo drama even more weird is that CES has also shown female-centric sex tech in the past.
Vetted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA, which owns and produces the annual CES event) and a panel of independent judges, Osé joined a handful of other award-winning inventions. The sex toy Lora DiCarlo submitted sounds like a flawless fit for the show. The CTA reportedly informed Lora DiCarlo on Halloween that its product was "deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane, or not in keeping with the CTA's image will be disqualified", the Oregonian reported.
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In 2018, a sex robot was exhibited on the floor of CES, with the creepy looking device (if that's the correct term) showcased on stage.
Later, CTA told The Verge the award had been revoked because the Ose did not fit into any existing product categories and should never have been included in the first place. "The future of healthcare might well be in the patent for a sex toy". A robotic massager created to give women killer orgasms without involving men doesn't exactly fit, as CTA said, in that category.
Apple (AAPL) displayed a big message to its competition for this year's CES.
"It seems to us that products that are explicitly allowed for men in an explicit sexual nature are allowed more of a pass than products that are geared toward female pleasure and female sexuality", Haddock said. Do the organisers really perceive women-focused sex toys to be more "immoral" than men's?