True Companion, a New Jersey technology company, says it has developed "the world's first sex robot," a life-size rubber doll that's not just for sex, but is also designed to engage the owner with "stimulating" conversation.
And it's legal.
Photo: Douglas Hines, founder of True Companion, poses with a life-size rubber doll named Roxxxy during the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010.
"I love holding hands with you," the dark-haired, negligee-clad robot said after it sensed that its creator touched its hand at a demonstration at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Another action, this one unprintable, elicited a different vocal response from the robot, which also boasts impressive, flesh-like, synthetic skin. Owners can also customize the robot's hair color, race, and breast size.
The level of sophistication demonstrated was not beyond that of a child's talking toy, but Roxxxy has a lot more brains than that: there's a laptop connected to cables coming out of its back. It has touch sensors at strategic locations and can sense when it's being moved. But it can't move on its own, not even to turn its head or move its lips. The sound comes out of an internal loudspeaker.
Douglas Hines, founder of True Companion LLC, said Roxxxy can carry on simple conversations. The real aim, he said, is to make the doll someone the owner can talk to and relate to — one of the specialties of many a prostitute.
"Sex only goes so far, then you want to be able to talk to the person," Hines said.
"She can't vacuum, she can't cook but she can do almost anything else if you know what I mean," Hines told The Sun.
"She's a companion. She has a personality. She hears you. She listens to you. She speaks. She feels your touch."
"Roxxxy will be a boon to certain male dwellers of Losers' Lane," writes Columnist John Walsh in The Independent. "At last, they can have a 'girlfriend experience' with someone interested in their views..."
"In sex-worker terminology, a Girlfriend Experience (or GFE) means a hooker who offers a fair impression of emotional intimacy for an hour: who can share your mood, mirror your enthusiasms and converse as if she understands what you're on about...Now here's proof that the essential ingredient in the bedroom isn't, after all, a battery-operated device or mink-lined restraints, but conversation," Walsh writes.
The phrases "Roxxxy" says are prerecorded, but the robot will also be able to synthesize new phrases out of prerecorded words and sounds, Hines said. The laptop will receive updates over the Internet to expand the robot's capabilities and vocabulary. Since Hines is a soccer fan, it can already discuss Manchester United, he said. It snores, too.
Owners will also be able to select different personalities for Roxxxy, including "Wild Wendy," "Frigid Farrah," "Mature Martha," and "S&M Susan."
Hines is charging somewhere from $7,000 to $9,000 for the robot, including the laptop, and expects to start shipping in a few months.
A Japanese company, Honey Dolls, makes life-size sex dolls that can play recorded sounds, but Roxxxy's sensors and speech capabilities appear to be more sophisticated. Hines' goals are certainly more far-reaching.
An engineer, Hines said he was inspired to create the robot after a friend died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. That got him thinking about preserving his friend's personality, to give his children a chance to interact with him as they're growing up. Looking around for commercial applications for artificial personalities, he initially thought he might create a home health care aide for the elderly.
"But there was tremendous regulatory and bureaucratic paperwork to get through. We were stuck," Hines said. "So I looked at other markets."
The broader goal of the company is still to take artificial personalities into the mainstream, beyond sex toys, Hines said.
"The sex robot thing is marketing, it's really about making a companion," he said.
In a 2007 book, "Love and Sex with Robots," British chess player and artificial intelligence expert David Levy argues that robots will become significant sexual partners for humans, answering needs that other people are unable or unwilling to satisfy.