Sex Robots Are Getting Closer to Feeling Human-Like With Second Skin Materials
Realism is an important feature for sex robots and sex dolls, but what materials could transform the tactile experience beyond the standard silicone?
Realism at request
One of the most requested features across all types of sex toys is realism. Consumers want their sex toys to feel (and sometimes look) as close as possible to a real human. Realism becomes even more important for sex dolls and sex robots not only because they come at a much higher price tag but also because of how they can be used by consumers. They are larger, feature more advanced technology, and are designed to represent full bodies/people, although robots and dolls can technically be defined as two separate things. Realistic materials are expected by consumers to provide the best alternative to human skin and stimulation that fulfills their fantasies.
Materials present: Standard silicone
The use of silicone and the more affordable thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) in creating the most realistic skin-like feel has been heavily debated by sex industry professionals. While the answer may vary between different types of sex toys, the current consensus is that although both silicone and TPE can emulate human skin, silicone simply does it better. So much so that it has become the standard for a variety of sex toys, including sex dolls and sex robots.
Materials of the future: Second skin
Three unique and innovative materials show promise to be used within the sex doll/robot industry; sensor skin, Aerohaptics, and printable artificial skin.
Sensor skin is a “form of artificial skin, packed with miniature sensors and actuators, that gives the wearer a remarkably realistic haptic illusion of being in physical contact with another person”. If this material were to be used with sex robots, it could potentially elevate tactile experiences by making every touch, feel, and cuddle feel much more real.
Aerohaptics is an even more futuristic material as it’s basically mechanically engineered skin…from a hologram. In 2021, a team at the University of Glasgow “configured their system so that users could virtually bounce a holographic basketball and feel it smack back into their hands”. While the team basketball experiment isn’t the sexiest example of Aerohaptics, if applied with sex robots in a virtual reality setting (which is already a popular feature), this technology could heighten the interactive component of sexual play as a sex robot could respond to the user’s movements – whether in-person or online.
While the two previously mentioned materials are already underway, a newer artificial skin developed at CalTech “can now give robots the ability to sense temperature, pressure, and even toxic chemicals through a simple touch.” This technology is part of a platform that uses artificial printable skin within a robotic arm as well as sensors that attach to human skin. According to CalTech, “the printable skin is a gelatinous hydrogel and makes robot fingertips a lot more like our own” the sensors embedded in the hydrogel give the robot skin the ability to detect the world around it. A sex robot that could sense temperature and pressure would completely transform the user experience!
Driven by consumers, the ongoing innovations in sex robot manufacturing prioritize realism, especially in the tactile realm. Finding an artificial skin material that is of premium quality, allows for flexibility in movement, and can be used to replicate different thicknesses, textures, and elasticity of different body parts (such as the vagina) would be groundbreaking for the market. It could be one of the existing materials mentioned in this article; however, this sex writer is excited to see what the future holds.
Image Sources: Cottonbro Studio