LAS VEGAS – Sex toys are back in the CES lounge. And Lora Haddock DiCarlo deserves a lot of credit.
"We want to reshape the way people think about sex technology," says the CEO and founder of company that bears her name and markets these products.
"We embarrassed (technical) pleasure for so long," she says. "The fact is that sexual health and wellness (products) are health and wellness products."
This is the category under which the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which hosts the event, is letting these companies exhibit at the industry ball in 2020. But it took a little convincing.
In DiCarlo's narrative, the backstory begins with an orgasm, leading to the company's first in a family of hands-free robotic massagers named Osé. Osé emerged in partnership with the Oregon State University robotics lab, which DiCarlo said included several engineers.
Her company has applied for and received an innovation award from CES for the Osé prototype, stating in advance that the product should stimulate a woman's G-spot and clitoris. But about a month later, when Lora DiCarlo asked Osé to be included in a product showcase at CES and exhibiting at the fair, the CTA took the award for reasons, DiCarlo says, that they considered "immoral, obscene, and profane."
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There was a backlash against the sexist stance towards the female product, and the CTA eventually bowed to the pressure. He not only apologized to DiCarlo and reversed her reversal of the award, but initiated a dialogue with her that resulted in a new policy, making room for health and wellness for these sex technology exhibitors.
The ban has really raised DiCarlo's profile and, while not necessarily the way she would go, has been good for business. It pre-sold more than 10,000 Ose units in December ($ 290 each) and tripled the size of the company. At CES 2020, DiCarlo's company will introduce two new bio-mimetic pleasure devices under the names Baci and Onda.
The sex controversy is not new to CES. In the early days, the program incorporated members of the porn industry.
Adult Entertainment Expo eventually became its own event, although for a few years it competed with CES, though not currently.
In addition, many CES companies have employed attractive "booth babes", the term coined for women whose job is to attract pedestrian traffic to a mostly male audience. CTA said it retains the right to remove people who wear what it deems inappropriate.
Critics of the series have also complained over the years about the lack of inclusion in speaker roles, with key keynote presentations given to male executives.
For his part, DiCarlo says that the inclusion of sex technology exhibitors is all about normalizing the way people talk about a subject considered by some to be off limits. "We believe having open conversations about our bodies and human sexuality is the right thing to do," she says.
Still, it's worth watching in the coming days the kind of response that sex technology really gets.
"The big question for me is how brands will talk about and position these gadgets," says Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. be about men? "
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