This is Episode 6 of Real Future, Fusion's documentary series about technology and society. Matt McMullen is not a normal tech entrepreneur. He doesn't wear hoodies or talk about shipping code, he doesn't work in an airy industrial loft in San Francisco, and he's never raised venture capital from a firm on Sand Hill Road. But from his factory in San Marcos, California, McMullen has spent the last two decades working on a project that could change human interactions as much as any social networking app or biotech breakthrough. McMullen is the founder and CEO of Abyss Creations, maker of the RealDoll, a hyper-realistic silicone sex doll.
Come January, the "Westworld" concept of lifelike sex robots will get one step closer. That's when a San Marcos company will unveil Harmony, an anatomically correct sex doll with a patented animatronic talking head with programmable personality and memory. News of creator Matt McMullen's latest invention -- he's been making lifelike silicone sex dolls for 20 years -- has created international media interest and a firestorm of criticism from ethicists and futurists who see a dark side to a sex doll that becomes more "human" with each technological innovation. One critic worries that the doll's artificial intelligence app could be hacked to make it kill its owner (like the vengeance meted out by sex robots in the film "Ex Machina" and TV show "Westworld"). And women's advocates say owners could realistically rehearse plans for violent sexual acts with the interactive dolls.
A sex doll company is set to release a robotic sex assistant that can form emotional bonds with its users. Each life-like silicon'RealDoll' is created with a flexible skeleton and requires about 80 hours of work from start to finish, and even has customized genitalia and interchangeable faces. But now the manufacturers of the RealDoll are looking to add another layer of realism to their sex companions, releasing the AI sex assistant system over the course of this year and next year, with the first'robotic head systems' set to be released by the end of the year. Unfinished silicone RealDoll sex dolls hang from chains at the Abyss Creations factory in San Marcos, California. RealDolls are created using Hollywood special effects technology and have orifices made of a special soft grade of silicone for people who want to'enhance their sex lives', according to Abyss Creations The company is set to release their sex assistant app, the Harmony AI app, in April this year and a virtual reality sex system next year.
Last year, CNET traveled to San Marcos, California, for an early, behind-the-scenes look at a new generation of artificially intelligent sex robots from Abyss Creations, maker of the popular "RealDolls" line of customizable sex dolls. Now, customers can expect to start receiving those same sexbots within the next month. So says Abyss Creations founder and chief designer Matthew McMullen in a recent video interview with a RealDoll enthusiast and Harmony beta tester who goes by "Brick Dollbanger." In the interview, McMullen says fully equipped AI sex robots should start shipping in September, which matches what a spokesperson for Abyss Creations subsidiary Realbotix told me earlier this week. McMullen also said putting the final touches on his company's new creations has proven to be "a little more difficult than we anticipated."
Sex dolls are becoming much more than silicone orifices. Soon, they're going to talk and learn and maybe even walk around. In a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, RealDoll CEO Matt McMullen revealed some of the company's future plans for its sex dolls -- and the future of intimacy involves a lot of plastic, metal and your smartphone. In response to someone asking McMullen who he sees as the company's direct competition, he said the "human female." This might explain why RealDoll is trying to bring its products to "life."