After Banning Sex Toy at CES, Officials Reverse Course and Hand It An Innovation Award

May 8, 2019, 4:37 PM UTC
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Evie Smith of startup Lora DiCarlo promotes Ose robotic sexual stimulator for women at an event near the Consumer Electronics Show, where she was not allowed to exhibit, in Las Vegas on January 8, 2019. - From the printing press and the VCR to virtual reality sex, adult entertainment has always been a major catalyst driving innovation and reshaping technology for the benefit of the porn pioneer. And for the thousands of tech nerds at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, that means the intelligent toasters and AI vacuum cleaners are having to make room for the sex toys of the future. Among the innovations at this year's get-together, run by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), are an augmented strip club complete with virtual pole dancers and a "personal massager" you can operate from your smart watch. (Photo by Glenn CHAPMAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Glenn Chapman—AFP/Getty Images

The owner of CES has reversed course—again—and given the maker of a sex toy one of its CES 2019 Innovation Awards.

The Osé, an adult novelty from startup Lora DiCarlo, initially won a CES Innovation Award, but later had that award rescinded and later prohibited the product from exhibiting at the show. On Wednesday, the Consumer Technology Association admitted that was the wrong move.

“CTA did not handle this award properly,” said Jean Foster, CTA’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “This prompted some important conversations internally and with external advisors and we look forward to taking these learnings to continue to improve the show.”

DiCarlo made sure media and CES attendees knew about the controversy. While she was not allowed on the show floor, she did exhibit at a popular media event that runs in conjunction with CES, where she had large signs on display blasting the CTA for its decision.

The decision to ban Osé from the show was especially curious, since adult novelty company OhMiBod has been a regular attendee for several years (and even won a Best of CES award in the the “Digital Health and Fitness Product” category in 2016).

Trojan condoms has also shown branded sex toys in years past. And Naughty America, an adult film studio, was on the CES show floor in 2019, albeit in a private meeting room in the back of the show floor.

Following this year’s controversy, some adult-themed companies told Fortune that they had been told they would not be allowed back to CES next year. It’s unclear if the CTA’s decision to give DeCarlo back the Innovation award will result in the group re-inviting those companies. The group said it will share “related policy updates” in the months leading up to CES 2020.

Sex and CES have always been strange bedfellows. For years, CES ran at the same time as the Adult Entertainment Expo. And from the 1980s through 1998, the show had an adult software section where porn stars and adult filmmakers mingled with show-goers.

“I am thankful that the CTA has reconsidered our eligibility for this award and validated the innovation our engineering team is responsible for,” said Lora Haddock, founder and CEO of Lora DiCarlo. “The incredible support and attention we’ve received in the wake of our experience highlights the need for meaningful changes and we are hopeful that our small company can continue to contribute meaningful progress toward making CES inclusive for all.”

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