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Sex Tech Turned On The Fun in Las Vegas, But Are We Getting Prematurely Excited?

One year clearly can be a very long time. Last year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has banned sex tech start-up Lora DiCarlo and revoked the innovation award which the company had received for the female-oriented sex toy called Osé. But a year later, CES has welcomed back the company. Lora DiCarlo has returned in style too. There are two new sex toys, Baci and Onda which were on show, and both of these new products have received the CES Honoree Innovation award. Consumer Technology Association (CTA) who are the organizers of CES, had faced a lot of criticism after the shenanigans at CES 2019, and hence a new policy was put in place subsequently which talks about inclusivity. Therefore, making its presence felt at CES 2020 was what you may categorise as Sex Tech. Make no mistake, this is just the beginning of a long road for sex tech. You will see a lot more it in the years to come. You will hear a lot more about it in the years to come. And no longer is sex tech something of interest to a limited demographic of people.

“After learning more about our products and our mission, people have come to realize that sexual wellness is an important part of overall well-being. This year, we are at CES to continue to reshape how people think about sex tech. It’s not about the technology. It’s not about the orgasm. It’s about how tech-enhanced experiences can lead to a greater sense of wellness, including improved sleep, reduced stress, and better mood,” says Lora Haddock, founder of Lora DiCarlo, in a statement shared with the media. She perhaps summarises the way technology and sexual wellness have come together, albeit after some hiccups and hesitation, but that had more to do with the human element in the picture than technology being a limitation.

Look at the numbers. Lora DiCarlo has also announced the sales figures for the Osé, which went Live for pre-orders in late November 2019. The company says it has already clocked more than $3 million in sales before 2019 ended and counting, though shipping is supposed to start only now, which is in February 2020. Osé sells for $290 (around Rs 20,500).

Lora DiCarlo weren’t the only sex tech company making waves at CES 2020. And good that, because the change in attitude of the CTA is essentially a one-year trial. In July, when the new policy was unveiled, CTA put some conditions in place before allowing sex tech products on to the show floor this time around. “CES 2020 will include tech-based sexual products on a one-year trial basis as part of the Health & Wellness product category or in the Health & Wellness startup area of Eureka Park. Products must be innovative and include new or emerging tech to qualify,” said the CTA.

Apart from allowing sex tech to make a presence at CES 2020, the show organizers also roped in The Female Quotient (The FQ) as the official Equality Partner for CES 2020. The organization trains companies in equality practices.

People often say that going to a doctor for a sperm test can be a very weird experience. You take an appointment, head there, perhaps hope along the way that no acquaintance sees you, meet the doctor, and then head to a room where you look at all sorts of fun (read, adult or porn, whatever rolls off your tongue better) magazines and literature to masturbate so that a sample of that can be tested. That is no longer necessary.

YO Sperm Test, which is US FDA approved, allows you to do the test at home. And your smartphone app becomes your doctor. Basically, you buy the kit (around Rs 2,450) which includes two collection cups, two pipettes to transfer your sperm to the slides, two slides, two vials of liquefaction power to add to your sample and testing device into which the slides go. The interesting thing is, this YO device attaches to your phone, but the company insists your phone remains squeaky clean always. Well, that would depend, wouldn’t it! You then fire up the YO app on your phone (free app for Android and iPhone) which then gives you the test results. YO Sperm Tests are available for the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy phones as well as smartphones made by LG, Huawei and Xiaomi.

As a bonus, YO Sperm will also send you a video of your sperm moving around. Now that’s one for the archives, isn’t it?

Also at the show was Satisfyer. They have launched Satisfyer Connect, a new app for their line of vibrators. This now lets a user create a vibration pattern and use that pattern remotely with a long distance partner. MysteryVibe turned up with Crescendo, their one-of-a-kind vibrator which can be bent into any shape you want. It is made of silicone, there is a smartphone app to control it and one of the 16 intensities that it can get you to orgasm with and can be charged wirelessly. This is priced at £129.00 (around Rs 12,000).

Let us not forget the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in all of this. Lioness debuted the Generation 2 vibrator which uses a database of over 30,000 recorded orgasms to understand how you or your partner may have done and makes suggestions for an even heightened orgasm the next time around. It also tracks body heat and pelvic-floor motions to track arousal and orgasm.

We again say this is just the beginning of a long road for sex tech to become mainstream. The human angle is perhaps the biggest problem. The Associated Press reports that when Cindy Gallop, a former advertising executive turned sex tech entrepreneur and founder of the MakeLoveNotPorn website offered to speak at CES, the organizers told her that sex tech was not part of its conference programming. Technology is not the limitation. Humans are. This was a one year trial. Remember that.