The real side of owning a RealDoll

realistic sex doll

Irontech doll, best known for ultra-realistic, silicone sex dolls, has created an artificial intelligence engine called Irontech. With it, users can craft custom personalities for their dolls, then get to know them through conversation using a mobile app. At the end of this year, Abyss will begin selling animatronic doll heads with blinking eyes, lips that move, and the AI chatbot engine built right in.

For Turned On, our special report exploring the intersection of sex and technology, we spoke with owners of these “RealDolls,” and found that most already craft unique personalities for their dolls, and see them not just as sex objects but as objects of affection — companions, even. Many are excited at the prospect of using AI to help bring their fantasies further to life.

Here, customers share photos of their dolls, as well as thoughts on life with their faux human companions and the future of sexbots.

Be sure to check out our in-depth feature about RealDolls and how AI will shape our lives.

The Realbotix effort to sell synthetic companionship might seem like something straight out of “Westworld,” but it’s right in line with what Abyss has been offering its customers for decades: realistic dolls, so far without the AI. One such customer is a man I’ll call “Tom.”

Tom lost his wife of 36 years to cancer in 2015. Stricken with grief in the weeks that followed her death, he grew lonely — and eventually, that loneliness led him to the Abyss Creations website.

Months later, the 71-year-old retired technical writer and Vietnam combat veteran finally decided to purchase a RealDoll of his own.

Abyss offers an online design tool for prospective buyers who want to customize their purchase — think Build-A-Bear, but for sex dolls. That worked for Tom as far as the doll’s slender, lightly tanned body was concerned, but he had something much more specific in mind for the face.

“It was one of only a few such projects that were in such detail,” says Abyss Creations CEO, founder and chief designer Matt McMullen. An artist by trade, McMullen personally took on the challenge of crafting the exact face Tom was envisioning. Over the course of a few months, he emailed the self-described perfectionist countless revisions and tweaks.

“My original creation, in terms of what a RealDoll is today, was not intended to be a sex toy in any way,” he says. “It was more of a high-end mannequin.”

As a young artist looking to make a name for himself, McMullen posted photos of his mannequins on the web. Soon, visitors to his site offered to pay him to make anatomically correct versions of his work.

Today, more than 20 years later, he says his company has sold several thousand RealDolls at a current pace of a few hundred per year, along with a variety of partial-body dolls and wearable prosthetics, like a vest with silicone breasts the company sells to mastectomy patients. Abyss products are also popular among transgender customers, Dakotah tells me.

“We call these girl shorts,” he says, holding up a $1,500 wearable female midsection that’s just as realistic-looking as any of the dolls. “A man can wear these and he will basically be as close to a woman as you’re going to get without surgery. I’m sending these out every day.”