Firm defends algorithm that 'spots women's orgasms'

  • Published
woman with eyes closedImage source, Getty Images

A firm that claimed to have built an algorithm to identify women's orgasms has defended itself after ridicule on social media.

Cyprus-based Relida Limited said its algorithm could "validate" female orgasms 86% of the time.

Slides from a presentation it produced were posted on Twitter and were retweeted thousands of times.

The company said it had wanted to help developers test sex tech products and that its work had been "twisted".

The presentation was posted on Twitter by Stu Nugent, brand manager at the sex toy label Lelo, after he was sent the pitch.

The slides, seen by the BBC, say that "there is no reliable way to be sure a woman has an orgasm". They list statistics about women who have faked climaxes.

Relida said its idea was still in development and the presentation was not intended for publication.

The algorithm is based on earlier research into changes in heart rate.

"An orgasm may be identified with heart rate as it has a specific pattern when climaxing," it said in an email to the BBC.

It said the algorithm was not yet finished and was created by a woman "looking for the well-being of other women".

"We never wanted to sell this algorithm directly to women or men," it said.

"Indeed, this is a too sensitive a subject, and information that could create additional pressure on women."

It described Mr Nugent's tweet as "unethical".

Mr Nugent said he was taken aback when he received the set of slides on LinkedIn.

"To be frank, we already have a very robust and reliable system for deciding whether our designs are pleasurable, and that's by asking the people who use them," he said.

"In any case the orgasm isn't necessarily the right metric for measuring the pleasurability of a sex toy."

Relida said its product was "all about science".

However Mr Nugent said it was "solving a problem we never had".

"The idea of detecting an orgasm against the word of the person who is actually having (or not having) one is dangerous," he said.