At The CES 2019 gadget show, makers of women’s ‘massager’ charge sexism
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At The CES 2019 gadget show, makers of women’s ‘massager’ charge sexism

The makers of a robotic “personal massager” for women won a prestigious CES award. Its maker, the startup Lora DiCarlo, was then banned from exhibiting on the show floor.

art and culture Updated: Jan 10, 2019 15:26 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press,Smart bra,Virtual reality
At The CES 2019 gadget show, makers of women’s ‘massager’ charge sexism(Instagram)

The CES 2019 gadget show is revving up in Las Vegas. Here are the latest findings and observations from Associated Press reporters on the ground.

Eye Of The Beholder?

The makers of a robotic “personal massager” for women won a prestigious CES award. Then organizers took it away.

Its maker, the startup Lora DiCarlo, was also banned from exhibiting on the show floor (though it’s in Las Vegas at a separate media event).

The show’s organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, said in an email to Lora DiCarlo that it reserved the right to disqualify any entry “deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.”

An independent panel of judges had selected Lora DiCarlo’s Ose vibrator last fall to win a CES 2019 Innovation Honoree Award in the robotics and drone category. Gary Shapiro, CTA’s president and CEO, apologized in a separate letter and said the company should have been told it’s “ineligible for entry.” CTA declined to provide further comment to The Associated Press on why the product was ineligible.

Ose’s makers say it’s sexism, noting that “a literal sex doll for men launched on the floor at CES in 2018” and virtual-reality porn company Naughty America has exhibited there for years. Naughty America spokesman Jack London said the company “has run into no issues allowing adult content to be shown at CES.” Lora Haddock, the CEO of Lora DiCarlo, says that makes for a double standard at the tech show already under fire for not including enough women.

“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 wrote in a letter to CTA.

Fresh Bread, No Baker

That smell wafting through the CES show? Freshly baked bread.

Wilkinson Baking Co. unveiled a 22-square-foot machine that can bake 10 loaves of bread every hour — no baker needed. But a human is needed to dump the ingredients into the machine, which then mixes them, forms the dough and starts baking. Someone also needs to slice the bread, although the company says it’s working on a way for the machines to do that, too.

The BreadBot, as it’s called, is being pitched to supermarkets as a way to deliver fresh bread to shoppers who are increasingly worried about the ingredients in their foods. The machine is covered in glass, so customers can watch bread get made. They then select the loaf they want on a touch screen, sort of like a vending machine.

Three local supermarkets are already testing it. The company says a couple of big chains have agreed to try it out soon, but it won’t say which.

Smart Bra

Is your bra dumb? An underwear company is pitching a solution to an age-old problem for women: finding a bra that actually fits.

In the past, women could get help from an expert human in finding their right size. A simple measuring tape wouldn’t do, as it doesn’t reflect other factors such as the shape of a woman’s breasts. But these old-school “bra fitters” are hard to find these days.

To address that, a company called Soma has added some circuits to a brassiere and connected it to an app.

The Soma Innofit has four lines of circuitry hooked up to a circuit board in the back, which then connects to an app via Bluetooth. The smart $59 bra then recommends a bra — from Soma’s line, of course.

The smart bra isn’t meant for regular wearing, though it could be used again if sizes change because of pregnancy or other factors. The company says people who don’t want to buy one can use it at a Soma store.

Cash For Kids

How do you teach children the value of money when there is no cash around?

Pigzbe is offering an electronic cash device with a digital currency called Wollo. It connects to an app that explains how money is earned and spent. Parents can set tasks that children complete to receive Wollo currency.

Trouble comes when your kid tries to spend Wollo at a store. The currency needs to be connected to a card to spend as real money in the real world.

And to get Pigzbe, parents also have to fork out some real money — $99.

This Show Won’t Go On

The Trump administration has some ideas about the future of commercial drones and self-driving technology, but it won’t be sharing them at CES this week amid an ongoing partial government shutdown.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao canceled a planned keynote address Wednesday. Her decision to skip the event came several days after Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and several other scheduled federal government speakers told CES they wouldn’t be coming because of the shutdown.

Chao had planned to speak about U.S. policies affecting drones and self-driving vehicles.

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AP video journalist Jona Kallgren in Las Vegas and Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this report.

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First Published: Jan 10, 2019 13:55 IST