Have you got the hots for a sexbot? Dive into these product launches within the ever-growing sex-tech universe.

We like to speak about the unspoken, and what better way to do this than to enter the pits of a nightmarish (or heaven-like) technology-led universe? Each week, we’ll be approaching a Tech Taboo topic that has caught the attention of our society for its potential to benefit or harm us. From provocative product launches to digital dangers, this series is called Tech Taboo for a reason…

Sleeping with the enemy may well be happening right about now. No, not the ex, but the sex robot. In the £24 billion sex tech world of online dating, VR porn and ‘smart’ sex toys, there’s room for the ‘sexbot’, an advanced version of a sex doll which is developed with sensory reactors, built-in heaters, self-lubrication and even a programmable personality – how very human. Without a doubt, the sexbot is set to be the next big thing with regards to AI and there is one guy who is paving the way…

Harmonising Sex and Robotics

Meet Matt McMullen, the ‘Frankenstein’ behind RealDoll, which is one of the biggest sex doll manufacturers in the world. After 20 years of making sex dolls and five years of robot research and development, the innovator put two and two together to create Harmony AI, a truly revolutionary sexbot that McMullen sees as “potential.” Formulated by his other platform RealBotix, this platform is half product development and half app, with both areas tying in AI. Whilst Harmony’s prototype was in the works earlier this year, McMullen launched the RealBotix app which users can use with the doll or independently, to create a personalised avatar with customisable voices, moods and personality traits. In a nutshell, this AI is a girlfriend within the hard exterior of your smartphone or your silicone doll. Whilst this sounds like a gimmick, McMullen’s sexbot strategy actually solves a problem.

“You can’t build something that’s completely 100 percent passable as a human being, mentally and physically, and not expect people to recoil when they see it. That’s just human nature.” – Matt McMullen.

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

Time and time again we have seen on The Apprentice or even within our agencies, that market research is key. Whilst working as a Halloween mask-maker back in 1994, McMullen was inspired to create a realistic mannequin, and after posting a few snaps on the net, he received requests for replicas with functional genitalia. Moreover, he saw many of his customers apply personalities to their dolls, treating them like humans. As such, McMullen picked up on this. “The push to add technology was coming from that root idea, which was the companionship, and robotics and AI was really, you know, converging those two technologies together into a doll struck me as such an obvious next step.” He’s right, now it does seem so obvious. Understanding that there was a market, his 20 years of development has been put to good use as Harmony is a product that can keep up with human nature i.e. it will learn what their owner wants and likes, alongside talking, learning and responding. It seems to me that with such advanced technology, McMullen’s aim to build companionship can only go forward.

 “It’s an alternative form of relationship, nothing more.” – Matt McMullen.

A Sex Tool – Not Toy

Whilst many question the ethics of McMullen’s product, wondering if Harmony was launched to replace women, he states that it’s never been on the radar, and I genuinely believe that. At first glance, it seems that sexbots are actually creating a problem – stimulating curiosity to transgress and form selfish relationships – but perhaps we should look at the bigger picture. This taboo machine was launched to help the socially isolated, and solve the issues of loneliness. So from one angle, we could potentially view AI as a training tool for those who struggle to connect and form relationships with other humans. Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that to some extent, Harmony sugar-coats and fuels isolation – but like everything, there’s a silver lining.

What’s Next for Sex?

It’s clear that sexbots aren’t something we can turn our backs on as 40% of heterosexual men “could imagine buying a sex robot over the next five years.” With this insight into the growing ‘digisex’ universe, maybe we will see more competitors attempt to challenge and revolutionise AI into something that makes our head hurt when we think about it. But one thing that is yet to come is McMullen’s plans to link Harmony to VR, in order to create a complete ecosystem for virtual love. Besides this, you can now purchase Harmony for a healthy £11,700 and have a partner for life who maybe shy and loving or moody and jealous. Regarding sexbots, we’ve made our bed and now we have to lie in it. Aren’t you a little curious? You’re only human after all…

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