The description for AEE's Saturday morning main stage offering was simple, yet compelling: Sex Robot Unveiling. Yes, on the third day of the show, we were invited to watch history in the making, and meet Roxxxy TrueCompanion.
Granted, we'd already seen her sitting on the couch in the TrueCompanion booth—we'd even talked to her creator and learned a bit about her ins and outs (so to speak). But Saturday was the day we got to see her switched on, and actually get a glimpse at what this robot could do.
A disclaimer: the exhibitors were very emphatic about the fact that the Roxxy we saw last weekend was a prototype, and that future versions would be more advanced. At this stage, the A.I. component had been the priority; in later iterations, fancy shmancy things like the ability to move would, presumably, be added in.
And it was the A.I. we were most interested in. During our discussion with Greg Hines, a former employee of Bell Labs and the creator of Roxxxy (and her absent brother Rocky), we'd learned that our girl could be programmed with one of five personalities: Wild Wendy, who's up for anything; Frigid Farrah, who's not; S&M Susan, who likes pain with her pleasure (and will eventually have the ability to use a safe word); Mature Martha, who's got experience under her belt; and Young, the girl so barely legal she didn't even have time to think up a catchy, alliterative name.
Of course, if you're left cold by these five preset personalities, it's possible to create a custom one—and (and this is the exciting part) to trade personalities with other TrueCompanion users through the site's forums. As Hines reminded us repeatedly, it's just like wife swapping...only without the messiness that comes with swapping human wives.
Back to the unveiling, though: it was the personality that we were there to see. During our discussion, Hines had told us that Roxxxy had the ability to have a conversation. Like chess? She'll learn about it and discuss it with you. Like something else? Yeah, she'll learn about that, too. With bated breath, we waited, hoping that we'd get to see a true display of Roxxxy's (artificial) intelligence.
Alas, it was not to be: the most we heard out of Roxxxy were saucy come-ons, uttered when Hines placed his hands upon her. "I know a place you could put that hand," she purred as his hand grazed her fingers. Different sensors activated different responses—but still, we were left, not with the impression of Gigolo Joe's ancestor, but more a sexier (and, true, more advanced) Teddy Ruxpin.
At heart, Roxxxy is really an enhanced, mildly interactive Real Doll—albeit one who's a bit clunkier, and not quite as attractive. Then again, at a price point of $7k-9k (and an optional, nominal subscription package that gives access to software updates), perhaps that's all we can expect.
No doubt, Roxxxy will fulfill a very important purpose for some lonely souls; and with time (and interest), she will progress closer to our image of a true robotic companion. Hopefully her makers will figure out how to put some life into her face in the process: with those cold dead eyes, she's left us stranded in the Uncanny Valley.
· TrueCompanion (truecompanion.com)