An orgasm robot designed for women with the help of engineers at Oregon State University was just stripped of an award by the Consumer Technology Association.
Now, the smart vibrator's Oregon founder is crying foul, TechCrunch first reported.
In October, Lora DiCarlo, the Bend-based company behind the product, called Osé, was notified it had won an innovation award at the CTA's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
According to the company website, Osé is, "the world's first hands-free device for the holy grail of orgasms — the blended orgasm." The technology "mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels just like a real partner."
But a month after being selected as an awards honoree in the robotics and drone product category, CTA board members told Lori DiCarlo they had changed their minds about the recognition.
According to CTA spokesperson, Sarah Brown, the award was revoked because Osé "does not fit any of [CTA's] existing product categories."
"CTA has communicated this position to Lora DiCarlo," Brown writes in an email to WW. "We have apologized to the company for our mistake."
Lora Haddock, the company's founder, calls the move an act of gender bias.
She notes in an open letter that similar products, like sex dolls for men and virtually reality porn programs, have exhibited at CES in years past. "You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused robotic massager for blended orgasm," Haddock writes.
She says an original email from event organizers justified the award revocation by saying the clitoris and G-spot stimulator broke the show's rules.
"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 email allegedly read.
Brown declined to comment on whether Osé was disqualified because board members found it profane, instead she provided WW a link to the CES innovation award selection criteria.
That explanation doesn't fly with Haddock.
"There is an obvious double-standard when it comes to sexuality and sexual health," Haddock writes. "While there are sex and sexual health products at CES, it seems that CES/CTA administration applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers."
She continues: "Men's sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned. "
With the help of OSU's robotics engineering lab, the company has applied for 8 patents in robotics and biomimicry. Osé will likely be released later this year.