In January, a high-tech vibrator called Osé won an innovation award from CES, a major annual tech convention. Weeks later, CES rescinded the award, with a representative reportedly citing a regulation that disqualified “immoral, obscene, indecent, [or] profane” products. But now, in another about-face, the award has been re-designated to the sex toy, as Engadget reports.
Jean Foster, senior vice president of marketing and communications at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs CES, released a statement that bluntly admitted “CTA did not handle this award properly.”
“This prompted some important conversations internally and with external advisors and we look forward to taking these learnings to continue to improve the show,” Foster added.
The incident earlier this year garnered widespread media attention, in large part thanks to Lora Haddock, founder of Lora DiCarlo, the company that makes the vibrator. The revocation of the award stopped Haddock from showcasing Osé at the convention, but she did exhibit at a media event that runs in tandem with CES. According to Fortune, Haddock displayed signs condemning the CTA for its decision to take back the award. She also published an open letter decrying the “biases” that “smother innovation by blocking access to funding, exposure, and consumers that could take brands and products to the next level.”
In the CTA’s decision to ban Osé, many saw a problematic approach towards the types of sex and female health products that are allowed to showcase at CES. The event is certainly not sex averse; a VR porn company regularly exhibits there, for instance. Breast pumps and fertility trackers can be seen on the floor, and a kegel device by the company OhMiBod even won a CES award in 2016. But these products, according to critics, do not solely exist to deliver female pleasure — unlike Osé.
The CTA now says that it plans to announce updated policies before the next CES event in January 2020. For her part, according to Engadget, Haddock noted that “the incredible support and attention we’ve received in the wake of our experience highlights the need for meaningful changes.”
“[W]e are hopeful,” she added, “that our small company can continue to contribute meaningful progress toward making CES inclusive for all.”
Read more at Engadget.