Please ME Robotics: The Future of Sex Tech

Forget Bridge in a Backback — the award-winning public works kit engineered by the University of Maine that makes a durable overpass using hybrid composites and the magic math of arches. Pouring concrete in flexible tubes is as interesting as recycling sewer pipes and as spicy as plain yogurt for students interested in tech whose heads are off road and in the clouds.

Technology in a hard hat does not excite all minds equally or stimulate innovation like a vibrator connected via the Internet to an Apple Watch might, for instance, a product featured recently at the Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas. If Maine’s public university system wants to attract a broader spectrum of entrepreneurs and engineers looking for action it should go the way of Oregon State University and launch a robotics engineering laboratory to compete for partnerships with companies like Lora DiCarlo, maker of Osé, a sex robot for women.

The Osé, modestly described in corporate literature as “the world’s first hands-free device for the holy grail of orgasms” is a robotic wonder that sprung from the STEM skills of former computer science, and electrical, mechanical and computer engineering students.

“Our almost entirely female team of engineers is developing new micro-robotic technology that mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels just like a real partner. The product even adjusts to each body's unique physiology for a personal fit that hits all the right spots, leaving the hands free for better uses,” Lora DiCarlo says on its website.

Hands free tech is all the rage, and now there's hands free love packaged in a sleek device. Sure sounds like a winning combination of X factors in this year of the woman. The Osé seems perfectly timed to capitalize on the zeitgeist spreading across the nation.

“Miniaturized robotics, biomimicry (the translation of organic human motions into mathematical models for automation), and artificial intelligence” is how MarketWatch described Lora DiCarlo’s business capabilities, so it was no surprise the start-up was selected as a Consumer Electronics Show 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Robotics and Drone product category for its Osé personal massager.

What is surprising — and what presents opportunity to Maine and other states competing for business while embracing a more inclusive and welcoming message — is that the Consumer Electronics Show took the award back and banned the Osé entirely, citing an arbitrary discretionary clause that gives the Consumer Trade Association the power to kibosh things it deems “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with the CTA’s image,” according to TechCrunch.

Immoral? Obscene? What about robotics and science and business? What about privacy and freedom? What about the sex robot for men that’s apparently allowed at the Consumer Electronics Show according to reports, or the virtual reality porn, or the fancy new remote that allows partners to control one another’s vibrators from a afar? Why are these robots allowed to remain as celebrated features of the show?

“There is an obvious double-standard when it comes to sexuality and sexual health,” Lora Haddock told TechCrunch.  The epitome of sex discrimination is that women do not have equal opportunity to cash in on the business of sex.

Maine can do better. Why not build robots for women here with wood and some quality New England composites? Coupled with our flexible tubes that could be miniaturized and filled with sand and fish oil, the robotic potential is limited only by our lack of imagination.

We can encourage the creation of and uniquely brand futuristic products for all genders designed to improve the human condition and host trade shows that don’t discriminate on the basis of sex. Maine can be open and a welcome home for business.