Looks like Howard and the gang from The Big Bang Theory are not the only ones trying to build a sex robot. I’m sure were they real they’d be proud to hear that someone in the world is about to successfully build a sex robot. Matt McMullen, founder of RealDoll proved that people are willing to pay loads of money buying sex dolls, and he’s now taking it a step further by animating these dolls.
Since 1996, McMullen has sold over 5,000 customizable dolls ranging from US$5,000 to $10,000 each. Customers are able to customize every aspect of the doll from hair color, eye color, body-type, skin color – even down to the shape of their toes.
Now McMullen is elbow deep in his new project – to animate his RealDolls – a project he’s calling Realbotix. He aims to install a convincing artificial intelligence along with a robotic head that can blink and open and close its mouth. And from the looks of it, he and his team of engineers (many who have worked from Hanson Robotics – a robotics lab that produces lifelike humanoid robots) are close to a solution too!
One of challenges that McMullen faces is not creeping people out by making something robotic that looks alive but is not completely convincing – a concept called uncanny valley, written about in 1970 by Japanese researcher, Masahiro Mori. In his paper Mori says, A person’s response to a humanlike robot would abruptly shift from empathy to revulsion as it approached, but failed to attain, a lifelike appearance.”
So far McMullen is avoiding that by creating dolls that look like dolls and not copies of people. For now a Realbotix head attached to a RealDoll body will be available in two years and will cost around $10,000. But if you’re aching for the full body experience, which will only start development after the RealBotix head, be prepared to fork out between $30,000 to $60,000.
As to whether anyone will be getting themselves a Realbotix, I think the success of RealDoll proves that there is a market for it. Though personally, I’m guessing if someone has $30,000 to $60,000 to throw around, that person won’t have a problem snagging a lady friend if you know what I mean *wink*. I’m kidding! I’m guessing it’s not about having a real woman anyway. Would be interesting to explore further. Stay tuned!