There are people out there who spend a whole lot of money on sex dolls. The more money, the more realistic. And now, a new element is being developed in a particular line of sex dolls that could animate the dolls. The creator of RealDoll is on the forefront of developing a convincing AI sex doll, and we’re a little bit scared about it.
Why scared? Well I don’t know--seen Ex Machina lately, or basically any movie that messes with Artificial Intelligence for some sort of selfish purpose? It never really turns out so great for the creator in the end. But the creator of RealDoll, Matt McMullen knows where the sex doll market is headed, and his latest project Realbotix wants to be the first sexbot to get there. According to The New York Times, McMullen is focusing on developing convincing AI, including a robotic head that can blink and open and close its mouth. He’s also working on the integration of emerging tech like a virtual assistant and companion mobile app (Her?) and virtual reality headsets that can be used separately or in tandem with the physical doll.
The creation of a sex robot doesn’t come without its challenges though. McMullen faces the so-called uncanny valley, which is a concept written in the 70s by a Japanese researcher that basically says people’s responses to robots shift from empathy to revulsion the more closely the robots resemble humans. McMullen hopes to avoid creepiness by creating products that still look like dolls, not just copies of people. So I guess we won’t be seeing Austin Powers Fembots roaming around anytime soon?
McMullen is definitely going to have some difficulty with the uncanny valley concept though, because his dolls do look pretty darn realistic. He wants to create something that can attract people beyond the physical attraction (because sexbots have feelings too!) and this is all starting to sound a bit too much like that episode in Black Mirror where Domhnall Gleeson comes back in the form of a robot with all of his social media/ internet presense used to map a personality, and what is our world coming to? Black Mirror knows...
McMullen has been in the sex doll business since 1996, already sold over 5,000 customizable life-size dolls priced ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Customers customize their dolls by choosing body type, skin tone, hair and eye color, and someone even ordered custom toes. The Realbotix will come in two forms. First the Realbotix head will be sold, and can attach to any RealDoll body. For the AI head, which should be available in a couple years, it will cost around $10,000. Then, the full body which begins development after the head is completed will most likely range between $30,000 to $60,000. And McMullen expects a plenty of buyers.
Want to see the Realbotix in action? Check out this episode of Bits video series, Robotica which details McMullen’s work on Realbotix.