This interesting development in humanoid companion robotics highlight issues regarding investment and commercial viability. The archetypal sex robot fulfills many of the fantasies of science fiction and accordingly some, perhaps many peoples (men’s mainly?) ideas of what robots SHOULD actually be able to do for us. Anyway there’s plenty of blog’s out there which discuss the morality, but more to the point is the commercial viability and capital investment into robotics. Let’s not forget the overall technological advances and commercial impact on the Internet by capital investment from the sex industry, distasteful of course but meteoric. (further information here – (Hughes, 2000)). With the world wide sex toy industry estimated to be worth $15 Billion the potential for reinvestment into companion robots (& sociorobotics) that don’t necessarily provide sexual services could therefore be enormous. In Hine’s video above, his AI technology (he claims) was firstly aimed at healthcare and the elderly, but lack of capital investment and healthcare governance led him to the sex industry and his initial vital set up costs of over a million dollars. If reports are to be believed Truecompanion already has European competition from First Androids who are variously quoted as having 4 million back orders for their products. (original/verifiable source not found)
TrueCompanion – The world’s first social sexbot?