If there is anything under-discussed, it’s sex. Despite being a very important part of our lives, many gets criticized, punished or maybe killed because of it. That’s not to say how much rejection Sex Tech has faced in the far past as with the case of Liz Klinger after her Smart Vibrator company wasn’t allowed to participate during the 2017 global tech event, CES 2017.
Another company that wasn’t allowed to exhibit in the CES in the past is Crave whose co-founder, Ti Chang said the company had been around for nearly 10 years and was rejected back in 2016 so they never attempted to make a comeback even in the CES 2020.
She hopes that the CTA decides to bring sex tech back next year and to recognize that it’s advancing the conversation about women’s pleasure.
In an email, the CTA said it would follow its “standard policies and procedures following this year’s show to determine next steps.”
The fact she never gave up made her show up at a booth which she was allowed to use by a “nice group of people” where she was able to exhibit her startup’s innovation. The CES is an event that no tech company trying to make wave in such a massive tech industry wants to miss.
But it’s been 3 years now and it seems we’re now more accepting of other’s sexuality and the Consumer Technology Association, the body that runs the CES now allows Sex Tech companies to exhibit their innovations right under the health and wellness section of the event just for trial though.
Whatever falls under this group needs to prove to be innovative and includes new or emerging tech. And in fact, there are about a dozen of Sex Tech companies that exhibited their products during extravagant tech convention with smart sex innovations such as vibrators, dispensers for warming lubricants, a kegel trainer paired with an application and even a Band-Aid-Like contraption that reduces Premature Ejaculation all in an attempt to take sex to the very next level.
No one know why Sex Tech is being discriminated but the CTA changed their mind in order to give an official presence to Sex based technology after it faced criticism for revoking a 2019 innovation award for a robotic sex device which is designed to give women simultaneous clitoral and G-Spot orgasms. The product called Ose was built by Lora DiCarlo protested this decision pointing out that VR porn and sex robots for men have graced CES in the past. In May 2019 the CTA reversed its decision to revoke the award.
According to a representative of the event, Jean Foster, CTA’s senior Vice President of marketing and communication, he made a statement saying “The CTA didn’t handle the award properly” which came after the backlash the body faced over the initial decision over the Ose robot.
But it’s 2020 and things seems to now be getting better. And sex tech founders in fact claimed this to be the beginning as they plan to create conversations over sexual wellness, as well as the fact that people always feel shameful to talk about their sexual pleasure and satisfaction in a modern world.
“Pleasure is this missing puzzle piece in our overall understanding of our health and well-being that a lot of us are just ignoring,” Klinger, the founder of Lioness said.
In fact, one of the Lioness user had discovered that she’s suffering from a concussion which affects her orgasm. But even when the CES is over, the fact that Sex tech industry still have a big barrier of rejection to break is very obvious. It’s very hard to get mainstream media coverage and ads from big social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram are always rejected making it difficult it for this industry to get through to a larger audience.
“With this change [at CES], it’s opening one of the floodgates,” Klinger said
The standpoint of Sex Tech companies
All through the Sands Expo or the Convention Center lies different Sex Tech companies under the health and wellness products subcategories. There is no obvious billboard screaming “Sex Tech is here” throughout the event exhibition center and in fact founders of these companies said they were forbidden from displaying genitalia or the use of profanity such as “Fuck”
Lioness just want to help women improve on their orgasm while they had a big sign at their booth that reads “Year of the orgasm”. The company will use AI and data visualizations to help it’s smart vibrator track tensions, temperature and pressure while syncing with an application that allows you analyze your health data.
“Now we’re on the map, which is amazing,” Klinger said.
On the app, there is a feature that illustrates where in the chart a woman has orgasmed while noting that the waves forms a regular repetitive pattern. This year, Lioness is a finalist for the CES’s Last Gadget Standing award and Engadget’s Best of CES for Digital Health and Fitness.
While Lioness isn’t the only Sex Tech company to gain recognition at the CES 2020, Lora DiCarlo is yet another company that brought forward two new products to the event. The first is Onda which is a green robotic G-Spot massager and then Baci which is a pink robotic clitoral stimulator.
The company’s booth is dripping in yellow and white. The phrase “The Pleasure is all Yours” adorns a wall in big white letters. Yellow stickers that say #Gender Bias Stops Here” fill a glass bowl. Awards sit on a shelf on one side alongside the company’s back story.
According to the founder of the company, Lora Haddock DiCarlo said it would have surprised her assuming the CTA refused the introduction of Sex Tech in the CES 2020. “It’s still respectable, and it doesn’t objectify or demoralize female bodies,” DiCarlo said of the sex tech booths at the showroom floor.
She also has no problem with sex tech not having its own section on the show floor. When sex tech booths are dispersed throughout the health and wellness space instead of being stuck in one corner, she said, it “helps to normalize sexuality because sexuality is normal.”
Where Sex Tech Belongs is still a Challenge
Although things are obviously changing for the better now and CTA now allows Sex Tech companies to showcase their products, Suki Dunham who founded the OhMiBod Vibrator made it known that the company too had been initally rejected in the past even though it later exhibited at the CES for 10 years.
“It was very clear that what we’re doing was tech and I think it’s going to be interesting to see how you start to navigate what really represents sex tech,” she said.
The first time OhMiBod exhibited at the CES, it was placed right next to Verizon and Yahoo in the Wireless communication section which helped the company get connections with more retailers such as Target. Now sex tech has a place where the founders feel like they belong.
The industry could still have a stronger presence at CES, she said, including panels with female sex tech founders. This year was just a baby step.
“It’s like pushing a rock up a hill,” she said. While it might seem as though the Sex Tech industry is just getting introduced into a massive tech space, its just a matter of time before these industry matches forward and gain more ground as possible.