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Coming soon: smarter sex dolls that move naturally

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WMDOLL makes sex dolls that can answer simple questions and whose appearance can be customised.

Zhongshan

AMID Beijing's push to turn the country into an artificial intelligence (AI) powerhouse and embed the technology in all facets of life, some Chinese entrepreneurs are taking the expertise to a new frontier: sex dolls.

WMDOLL, a big sex doll maker based in Guangdong, launched what it calls AI-powered dolls at end of 2016. They offer features ranging from simple conversation to moving eyes, arms and torsos. Customers can personalise their dolls by choosing various appearance options including height, hairstyle and eye colour.

AI features on the dolls are still very basic: They can answer questions but cannot hold longer conversations. The doll uses vocabulary by connecting to a database supported by Chinese tech giant Baidu.

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The firm admits improving the features has been difficult partly because experts aren't interested in putting much effort into developing AI technology for adult products.

"Of course we're not expecting to make our AI dolls that human-like, after all we're just making adult products," said Liu Ding, WMDOLL product manager.

"But we will surely add more advanced technologies, such as making the limbs move more naturally."

WMDOLL has sold more than 20 of the AI dolls, which are priced between 10,000 yuan (S$2,007) and 50,000 yuan, compared with their annual sales of 20,000 dolls.

The company hopes the AI dolls will eventually take off with overseas customers - exports account for 80 per cent of its sales, and half of its exports go to the US. REUTERS