Realdoll is the highest-profile sex doll on the market, with appearances on TV shows, in movies, and in art. The beautiful lifesize, “functional” silicone dolls have become a companion for over 5,000 men (and some women).
But although they are lifesize, they are lifeless. They don’t move on their own, they don’t react to your touch and they don’t talk. While many men would be fine with forgoing the latter, in favor of the doll “getting into it,” so to speak, it looks like voice may come first.
RealDoll creator Matt McMullen is in the process of giving the dolls not only a voice but a personality behind it. He and his company are working on Realbotix, an add-on that will take a doll one step further into turning a Realdoll into a talking sex robot.
Sex robots are not a new concept in the public consciousness. From the Fembots of Austin Powers to the more recent Ava of Ex Machina, or even the female Cylons of the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, examples are rife. However, real-world examples have often proved less than ideal. The idea behind Realbotix is to combine the quality of the Realdoll with an AI-capable of doing more than simply responding to pre-programmed questions.
In its current form, Realbotix is a Realdoll’s head capable of limited motion and fitted with a Bluetooth speaker. The AI, programmed with a name and personality, is capable of conversation. McMullen envisions Realbotix as compatible with both the Oculus Rift virtual reality system and smartphones. With the Oculus Rift, the relatively simple motions of the doll would be translated to a virtual girl with a more lifelike appearance and motion. With the smartphone app, the AI of the doll would be able to speak to the user throughout the day.
There are still some kinks to work out. As McMullen says, “With the AI, I think we’ve got to be careful with that. Getting the doll confused when you’re talking to her and she says some things that make absolutely no sense.” In a video demonstration, the Bluetooth speaker inside of a doll must be rebooted, her long wig removed to gain access. “So next time we’ll make that more accessible,” McMullen says.
The Uncanny Valley 1 remains a concern for all involved. So named for the area in between artifice and realism where humans are unnerved and repulsed by the appearance of what they are perceiving, the Uncanny Valley has been avoided by McMullen by giving his dolls a somewhat stylized appearance. He intends to do the same going forward with Realbotix, giving them the appearance of moving dolls rather than complete human likenesses.
“I want to have people actually develop an emotional attachment to not only the doll, being the robot, but the actual character behind it. To develop some kind of love for this being.,” McMullen says at the end of the accompanying video on the development of Realbotix. A good portion of Realdoll’s customers want companionship rather than just sex, and so this seems like a logical step forward for the customer base. The Realbotix add-on is still estimated at two years from being customer-ready, and it would be an extra $10,000 price tag added to a doll that already costs several thousand dollars. In a few more years, a full-body doll might be available for between $30,000 and $60,000. But for interested parties, it may be a small price to pay for a sex robot of their own.
Source: NY Times