CES 2020 is going to be a bit sexier.
The Consumer Technology Association, the organizers of the giant consumer tech trade show, has announced that next year's show will have a new product category: Sex Tech. The announcement comes after a turbulent year that saw the group accused of sexism after a series of reversals when an adult novelty won a CES Innovation Award in 2019.
At present, the Sex Tech area is only being called a one-year trial, and the CTA is setting careful limits to ensure its existing ban on pornography remains in effect.
"Products must be innovative and include new or emerging tech to qualify," the group said in a statement.
In conjunction with the policy change, the CTA updated its CES dress code, forbidding booth personnel from wearing clothing that is sexually revealing or could be interpreted as undergarments. It's unclear if this was to prevent adult novelty companies from being too provocative in their floor displays or if this was a reaction to "booth babe" models at the show.
Sexually focused technology is nothing new at CES. Some adult novelty companies have been at the show for nearly a decade. However, show officials have kept a low profile on those, so the focus doesn't shift from the panoply of new TVs, smart cars, and Internet of Things devices.
But in 2019, the Ose, an adult novelty from start-up Lora DiCarlo, won a CES Innovation Award, though that award was later rescinded and the product was prohibited from exhibiting at the show. (The award was reinstated in May with the CTA admitting it had handled the situation poorly.)
Lora DiCarlo greeted the news of the policy reversal warmly. "We are excited to share that Lora DiCarlo will be on the show floor at CES 2020," said a spokesperson. "We’re optimistic that this is a step in the right direction."
Other adult novelty companies praised the CTA as well.
"We couldn’t be more pleased," said Suki Dunham, founder of OhMiBod, which has been a CES exhibitor for the past nine years. "CTA’s announcement... acknowledges that the playing field is not always level, but that they are dedicated to being an agent for change."
Adult novelties might have a history of being sold in the back room of adult stores, but they've grown into a $15 billion business and are now offered in stores like Nordstrom, Sharper Image, and Sephora. They've even begun attracting the attentions of private equity firms.
In 2017, the adult novelty market was valued at $23.7 billion. It's expected to top $35 billion by 2023.
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