Automated cars, wearable tech, friendly robots and advanced artificial intelligence of all consumer tech stripes were the big takeaways from the just-wrapped CES 2017. But beyond the marquee brand names, sexy sex just might be mounting a comeback at CES—and it’s more than a French love box.
Adult entertainment and tech innovation have gone hand-in-hand for two generations now. The most artful telling of this story is Boogie Nights, the Hollywood film about how the adult film industry went from glitter and glamour to cheap and classless, all thanks to the invention of affordable home video.
Online adult entertainment has driven innovation on the internet as well. And yet, the annual CES event has gone from tentatively embracing adult entertainment to harshly refusing to recognize it in the last decade. By a few reports, there might be a return to CES’s roots.
The publication Sex Tech Guide (maybe NSFW) has the background on how CES went sex-free. In its report from CES 2017, the Guide notes that “‘Adult products’ is not an official product category for CES” and that CES has “denied companies wishing to show such products.” And that’s been true since 2000, when the adult tech industry spun off its own show named Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE). Engadget has a great, deep dive profile on how CES grew alongside, and then discarded, adult entertainment.
But with recent reports that internet search terms like “VR porn” have skyrocketed, is it any wonder that CES 2017 may represent a loosening of the rules about “adult” tech?
At least three brands of tech-enabled vibrators are at CES this year. OhMiBod, whose vibrator has managed to be in CES since 2011 and is highlighted in the Engadget story, is now joined by similar dynamic, socially linked sex toys from Nuelle and B.Sensory.
Another sex tech to get its foot back on the CES floor is adult VR. Last year, Naughty American was giving test runs—to great PR effect—of its VR Porn program in a hotel suite. This year is it any surprise that Naughty America is an official exhibitor at CES? “The mainstreaming of VR entertainment, the dramatic technology advances, and the participation of major industry players have combined to make inclusion of Naughty America VR an important addition to CES 2017,” the brand announced in a press release about its CES attendance. That said, CES has made sure that only those really looking for Naughty America’s booth will be able to find it.
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) January 5, 2017
Not everyone is enthused though that CES has caved to adult entertainment tech and its accompanying vibe. Advertiser, speaker and Make Love Not Porn activist Cindy Gallop was not pleased by the tired way in which adult content had worked its way back into CES.
— Tinder (@Tinder) January 5, 2017
Meanwhile, as lust remains largely off limits, love is perfectly acceptable at CES.
— James Godfrey (@j_godfrey) January 6, 2017
Social networking brand Tinder, which was the most used app by CES 2016 attendees, has shown up big at CES 2017. The brand of directional swipes is messaging against VR from outfits like Naughty America by promoting, ironically enough, in-real-life (IRL) interactions. Tinder is further shedding its sex-hook-up image by partnering with Ford to make a Tinder profile for the automaker’s new Mustang model.
One CES exhibitor is the French inventor of the “Love Box.” A handsome wood box that alerts the beloved with a spinning heart when he or she has received a short text message from a paramour. What happens after receiving the Love Box message is the business of the AEE.