This time, they hope what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas: ROXXXY the sex robot had her cumming-out party in Sin City, so to speak, and all that was missing was an after-smoke.
In what is billed as a world first, a life-size robotic girlfriend complete with artificial intelligence and flesh-like synthetic skin was introduced by a New Jersey company to adoring fans at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. It seems that Roxxxy is poised to revolutionize the sex toy industry.
Can anyone say Stepford Wives?
"She can't vacuum, she can't cook but she can do almost anything else if you know what I mean," TrueCompanion's Douglas Hines said, clearly devoid of any subtlety whatsoever. "She's a companion. She has a personality. She hears you. She listens to you. She speaks. She feels your touch. She goes to sleep. We are trying to replicate a personality of a person."
A male sex robot named Rocky is in development by TrueCompanion.
Can anyone say Stepford Husbands?
At the Expo demonstration, the sexrobot said, "I love holding hands with you" when it sensed that its creator touched its hand. Another action, this one unprintable, elicited quite a different vocal response from Roxxxy.
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 computer (which is included with every purchase) 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.
Hines, founder of the Lincoln Park, N.J.-based TrueCompanion 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.
"Sex only goes so far – then you want to be able to talk to the person," Hines said.
The phrases that were demonstrated were prerecorded, but the robot will also be able to synthesize 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.
A Japanese company, Honey Dolls, makes life-size silicon 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 electrical engineer and computer scientist who formerly worked on artificial intelligence at AT&T Bell Laboratories, 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."
In 1993, Hines designed "Trudy," his first sexbot that the inventor admits was not as "user friendly" as the current model. It was during his work at Bell that Hines learned the latest artificial intelligence systems, which assisted him in the development of the robot.
He unveiled Roxxxy with a lot of fanfare, which cost between $1 and $5 million to develop and took about two and a half years to produce. Hines said he combined his background with the expertise of 18 artists and engineers from three countries to create a robot designed to "deliver the best in robot sex."
"It's really a labor of love," he said.
But, 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.
But even though Roxxxy is "always on," her attraction isn't supposed to be about only sex.
According to TrueCompanion's Web site, she "can carry on a discussion and express her love to you and be your loving friend. She can talk to you, listen to you and feel your touch."
The dark-haired, lingerie-clad Roxxxy prototype robot is modeled after a Caucasian fine arts student and is 5 feet 7 inches (170cm) tall and weighs 120 (54.43kg) pounds, and "has a full C cup and is ready for action," according to Hines. Owners can customize Roxxxy's features and change her race, hair and eye color, and breast size.
The anatomically-correct robot has an articulated skeleton that can move like a REAL woman but, as previously mentioned, can't walk or independently move its limbs. The Robotic movement is built into "the three inputs" and a mechanical heart that powers a liquid cooling system.
“She knows exactly what you like. If you like Porsches, she likes Porsches. If you like soccer, she likes soccer," Hines said.
Prospective owners can pick from the five different "personalities" depending on their individual preference. There is Wild Wendy, who is outgoing and adventurous; Frigid Farah, who is reserved and shy; Mature Martha, who provides the matriarchal kind of caring; a young unnamed doll with a naïve personality; and S&M Susan, who is...uh...available for more adventurous types.
Customers ordering the robot online detail their tastes and interests much like online dating sites but here, the information is used to get the mechanical girlfriend in synch with her mate.
"She knows exactly what you like," Hines said of Roxxxy, noting that Rocky will also come with personalities.
Roxxxy will chat with her flesh-and-blood mate, and touching her elicits comments varying according to personalities. She is wirelessly linked to the internet for software updates, technical support and to send her man email messages.
Roxxxy is also Wi-Fi capable, and her little quirks, like the way she holds your hand, can be shared with other sexbot owners through the True Companion Web site. Wi-Fi also makes Roxxxy easily upgrade-able, in case a new OS debuts, or – shudder to think – she catches a computer virus!
After customizing their TrueCompanion personalities, owners can then share the programs with others online on the company's website, according to Hines.
"Just think about wife or girlfriend swapping without actually giving the person to someone else," Hines said. "You can share the personality online."
Hines sees his creation as not only a recreational innovation but as an outlet for the shy, people with sexual dysfunction, and those who want to experiment without risk.
Roxxxy versions are priced from $7,000 ($A7,634) to $9,000 ($A9,815), depending on features. The sex robot is available in the U.S. and Europe and will eventually be available globally, according to Hines.
The AVN Adult Entertainment Exposition takes place annually in Sin City, side-by-side with the Consumer Electronics Show. As technology fans convene on Vegas for the gadgetfest, they're also given the opportunity to visit AVN for a dose of the content that drives is often assumed to drive technology adoption.