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Back in 2019, the very idea of the Osé made waves. The high-tech sex toy by Lora DiCarlo was first given an award for robotics by CES (one of the most highly regarded tech conferences in the world). Then that award was inexplicably rescinded, and the device banned for being too “obscene.” 

The whole debacle sparked a much-needed conversation about discriminating double standards in the tech industry. It led CES to officially welcome sextech (technology focused on sexual wellness) to the show floor in 2020 on a trial basis, an unprecedented move for a conference that likes to maintain a seemingly squeaky clean image.

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Now, the revolutionizing ideas and technology behind the device that started it all has finally arrived. No longer just a concept, the hotly-anticipated Osé released just a couple months ago. And like all new tech that made big claims during the prototyping phase (in the immortal words of Elon Musk, “We’ll fix it in post,”) it must now face the scrutiny of living up to all its big promises. 

Regretfully in my experience, Lora DiCarlo’s Osé does not. 

To be fair, the high-tech sex toy was given an almost impossibly tall order to fill: a hands-free device that could bend for a customized fit to any vagina to deliver the coveted blended orgasm (a simultaneous G-spot and clitoral climax). But at best, the final product’s ability to do all that is…complicated.

Impressive tech • Innovative design and new sensations • Unique clitoral stimulator

Expensive • Steep • potentially painful learning curve • Both underwhelming and overwhelming • Will not work or fit some bodies • No returns

The Osé is a far better concept than it is a product. Its flaws make it near unusable, and even painful at times. In its current form, the Osé can’t consistently deliver on the promise of a hands-free pleasure device for blended orgasms. But we’re still eager to try the next iteration.

Internet marketing The good, the bad, and the painful

To be clear, the Osé is still an incredible feat of technology. I’ve tried a few dozen of the most high-tech sex toys on the market, and this was the first time I felt like I was sticking a bonafide robot up there (and kinda sounded like it too).

For better or for worse, the Osé doesn’t look like any other toy. While it does use the suction technology initially popularized by clitoral stimulators like the Womanizer, it forgoes all vibration. It’s fitted with a clitoral “mouth” that’s also a departure from the norm. When aligned, it creates a wonderful sensation truly different from all the other suction vibrators that proliferate the market. While most of the other toys that claim to mimic a human partner’s mouth fail miserably (looking at you, Lelo Ora 2), Osé comes the closest to anything I’ve ever tried.

These two accomplishments alone are huge. 

As with all things Osé, every pro comes with a litany of cons.

Despite the abundance of new products released every year claiming revolutionary patented technology that delivers an exciting new sensation, it’s all more or less the same shit. The sex toy industry hasn’t truly innovated in that department for several years. But here is the Osé, making strides in achieving an experience many failed to crack, while not even relying on the standard of vibration whatsoever.

But as with all things Osé, every pro comes with a litany of cons.

I only managed to experience the innovative delights of the clitoral stimulator when I used it alone, completely ignoring the G-spot stimulator. Even then, it was finicky, falling into place only fleetingly. Despite three separate sessions and several cumulative hours of trying, I could not for the life of me get the Osé to fit in a way that got the two to work in conjunction together as advertised (more on that later). Whenever I did — contorting my body and forcing the thing to stay in place — the effectiveness of one stimulator always came at the cost of the other.

And, yes, the lack of vibration is innovative, but there are massive tradeoffs for that innovation. 

People who love power in their toys will be sorely underwhelmed. The lack of vibration might lead to a more human-like experience. But now that I’ve had that, I realize a device mimicking a human mouth is not at the top of my list of needs while masturbating. I need to feel comfortable, first and foremost. Vibration is something I’m familiar and comfortable with. But the hours spent trying to get something as alien as the Osé to work with my body were downright mortifying, and at times extremely painful.

Herein lies the biggest problem with the Osé: its steep learning curve. I’m not the only one pointing it out, either, though Lora DiCarlo claims that other customers said it worked easily for them without any problems. To be fair, this is at least partially not the Osé’s fault. 

As the exhaustive manual and various how-to guides for the device state, basic understanding of the female anatomy is sorely lacking. Few (myself included) know even the most fundamental facts about the G-spot and clitoris. (Did you know the clitoris is much more than just the visible little nub we all know and love, but actually a large internal network connected to the G-spot?) Aside from lack of sex education, there’s the even bigger obstacle of shame that keeps the vast majority of women from exploring their pleasure. Lora DiCarlo is trying to offset these educational roadblocks by providing everyone who purchases an Osé with a free 25-minute virtual consultation with a “wellness coach” from their in-house WellSx platform

Overall, if we as a society knew more about our bodies and felt more comfortable exploring them, then maybe the Osé wouldn’t have such a harsh learning curve. But as it stands, to use the Osé, you must get a crash course in figuring out the complicated device, finding your clitoris, finding your G-spot (and learning what that actually means), acclimating to the sensation of both getting stimulated, all while ridding yourself of a lifetime of internalized misogyny. And that’s only the prerequisites to the far more hellish multi-step process of trying to get the Osé to contort into the right fit for you.

I don’t buy the marketing and manual’s implication that the Osé is a good device for discovery and experimentation. It’s actually extremely punishing of experimentation.

It sure sounds nice when the manual instructs to “let curiosity be your guide” while figuring it out. On paper, Osé’s customizable flexibility would make it seem optimal for experimentation. In reality, discovering what feels good with the Osé requires messing around with it while it’s on inside you, and turning it on while it’s even at slightly the wrong angle can be excruciating. There’s a reason the instructions emphatically and repeatedly state that the device should be completely turned off before being inserted or removed. Yet even if you do your best to follow those instructions, there’s still ample room for an accident to happen while you’re wrestling this unwieldy demon. 

Allegedly, this is only a one-time process and once you find your fit, you won’t need to do it again. I can’t tell you if that’s true or not. For some users, it just doesn’t fit, which is also true for some other beloved, popular, expensive toys like the Womanizer. 

But it still makes me even more hesitant to recommend the Osé, especially with that price point (are you willing to gamble $300?) Lora DiCarlo doesn’t permit returns either, even if their product doesn’t fit you. That’s an industry standard, but one that other innovative women-led sextech startups like Dame have reversed out of a belief that it’s misogynistic and spreads shame. 

Maybe if I’d given the Osé more tries, I might’ve miraculously found my right fit. But after so many painful experiences with it, watching every instructional video available, having a one-on-one meeting with the CEO of Lora DiCarlo to help explain it, trying every piece of advice provided, and still failing after several hours of being spread-eagle over a device that occasionally pulverized my insides, I can’t say I’m eager to give it another shot. My body actively rejects it, tensing in anticipation of the pain every time I press the button for the G-spot stimulator.

Still, I don’t doubt that the Osé works for some. I don’t doubt that, when it does work, it can deliver its promise of the holy grail blended orgasm. I felt hints and glimpses of that promise throughout my attempts. What I do doubt, though, is that the vast majority of people buying it have the time, knowledge, bravery, or money to do so.

Internet marketing The innovation problem

I just don’t know who the Osé was made for. 

Certainly, it’s not for beginners, thanks to its astronomical price point, intimidating size, complicated functionality, humiliating learning curve, and requirement of extensive knowledge of anatomy. I’m also not entirely sure it’s good for sex toy aficionados, either, who have probably already figured out much more reliable and easier methods of achieving a blended orgasm by using two different toys at the same time.

As a concept, there’s an argument to be made that the handsfree functionality makes it more usable for people with certain disabilities. But I left my attempts at “finding my fit” with horrible cramps not only in my hands but even in my legs. You could also argue that making a customizable rather than one-size-fits-all device is more inclusive to a wider variety of bodies. But it actually feels like the Osé replaced the standard one-size-fits-all solution with a unique no-size-fits-anyone problem.

internet marketing I'm actually still eager to try out the Baci.

I’m actually still eager to try out the Baci.

Image: lora dicarlo

It brings me no pleasure to report this. The Osé was born out of a worthwhile dream: to help as many people with vaginas as possible experience a blended orgasm without needing to rely on a partner. Unfortunately, in the process of turning that into a reality, it feels as though the dream that got the Osé so much attention in the first place is also exactly what stifled the product from delivering it.

Maybe the Osé should’ve been two different devices (like the Onda and Baci, two other toys Lora DiCarlo is releasing soon that are essentially separated versions of the Ose’s G-spot and clitoral stimulator) so there wouldn’t be such a labored, discouraging, and potentially impossible fitting process. But doing that would compromise its hands-free selling point. Maybe the Osé should have had vibration just so it could have one single familiar component — but that’s not the innovation that was promised back at CES in 2019.

Few pieces of technology as ambitious and experimental as the Osé get it right the first time. Despite everything, I actually still believe in Lora DiCarlo’s big dreams and innovations, eager to test the other toys it has planned. But the Osé will need a lot more iterating before I can even consider recommending it.

What’s most distressing about the Osé’s failures is that the conversations it sparked were such a force for good in the sextech space. The device’s impressive technology earned respect from some of the biggest names in tech, a feat that has eluded sextech since the beginning. The Osé feels like a dare for others in the sex toy industry to aspire to make something truly different, difficult, and innovative instead of just churning out tweaked versions of the same broken internet-connected dildo. 

The Osé is stuck in a Catch 22 of innovation. 

But I fear that the tech and sex toy industry will take all the wrong lessons from the reality of the Osé, like that trying to innovate really isn’t worth it, or that sexual wellness really doesn’t have a place in tech, or (worst of all) that venture capitalists shouldn’t invest in women-led startups.

Like ambitious women-led films and entertainment, the exceptional scrutiny and pressure put on the Osé is part of why it almost can’t live up to expectations. It must bear the brunt of being the first of its kind, and must be a unanimous success for anyone to take a gamble on anything like it again.

The Osé is stuck in a Catch 22 of innovation. To get in the door of a male-dominated industry, its tech needed to be formidable — even if that tech led to a product lacking user-friendliness. To shake up the sex toy industry, it needed to be radically different — even if reinventing the wheel meant getting rid of features customers liked. To get the public’s attention, the Osé needed to promise big things.

By doing all that, it did something important: It proposed a daring, bold new idea. Unfortunately, daring, bold new ideas don’t help you cum.

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