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Apparently the era of 'immersive virtual sex' has arrived and we should all be prepared to have a chat with someone who defines themselves as a digisexual. If you're scratching your head and thinking this is another category added onto the LGBTIQA+ community, you'd be wrong.
A digisexual is someone whose sexual and emotional attractions are satisfied by the virtual world.
The University of Manitoba's Dr Neil Mccarthur has told the Daily Mail: "As these technologies advance, their adoption will grow and many people will come to identify themselves as 'digisexuals'.
"Many people will find that their experiences with this technology become integral to their sexual identity and some will prefer them to direct sexual interactions with humans."
So, what type of person gets into the, admittedly quite strange, world of sex doll making? Over in the US, Bryan set up his own site, Silicon Wives, back in February 2016, after some inspiration from Hollywood.
Bryan told LADbible: "I'd been working in the sex toy industry long before Silicon Wives. I was mostly focused on selling vibrators and dildos to women.
"That market has exploded and many great new competitors have arrived. I exited that market and started to look for other opportunities in the industry, however, I'd never even known sex dolls existed until I, by chance, saw the move Lars and the Real Girl with Ryan Gosling.
"I couldn't believe how good the 'girl' looked, and I immediately began researching sex dolls.
Ryan Gosling as Lars, with his sex doll. Credit: MGM
"Since then I've been obsessed. While not a complete replacement for a real women, they are pretty darn good and only getting better.
"What I like so much about running Silicon Wives is that it's a win-win for everyone involved. I get to work on these amazing products involving master-level sculpting, material science, engineering, and soon robotics and artificial intelligence. The customer gets great value for their money, and an excellent addition to their sex lives."
And it's pretty big business - the sex toy industry is worth an estimated $15billion worldwide, of course not all of this is down to sex dolls, but your average sex doll costs anywhere between $2,000 (£1,596) and $10,000 (£7,981); and one company is charging an eye watering $10,000 for just the head of an AI sex doll.
With the cost being so high, you've got to wonder who buys them? We probably all have a stereotype of your average 'sex doll user' in our heads, but Bryan helps clear up some myths.
"Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of our customer base is single men between the ages of 25-55," Bryan said. "However, we've also been approached by women looking to purchase a sex doll for their husbands. It's a great way to add a third-party in your bedroom without any emotional complications."
And feedback from satisfied customers points to a wide variety of reasons. For some it's a relationship substitute, for others it's part of a specific silicon doll fetish, and a lot of owners just use them for a better sex-life. One anonymous user said: "I started with a latex balloon fetish in my youth. It expanded into inflatable dolls then silicone dolls. The dolls are not a substitute for a relationship, they are just for a kind of fantasy."
Gizelle. Credit: www.siliconwives.com
Another said: "They're always there for me, they don't judge me, don't pressure me to change into what they expect me to be. Granted, they're no substitute for real human interaction, but I have my friends and family for that."
While another uses his while maintaining a happy marriage, as they said: "I'm married, but get way less sex than I'd like. Doll sex not only makes up the difference, it satisfies many itches that married sex won't. Sex acts the wife doesn't do with me and some I'd be afraid or embarrassed to even ask for."
Bryan and the rest of the team work hard to break down stigma and create an open space for customers to talk about what they're looking for without feeling scrutinised.
"For most people, our luxury sex dolls are not something you would buy on a whim," Bryan said.
"Because of the price tag and potential social stigma of owning a sex doll, our customers really do their research to make sure they are getting the best doll for themselves. We want to be that learning resource, we want to have the most informed customers, and be the best sex dolls resource on the web."
Sergio Santos, who recently made headlines with his super advanced, AI-type doll spoke to LADbible about the thought process behind creating one of these dolls.
Sergio comes at this whole thing from a very different angle to Bryan, he never worked in the sex toy industry and never thought he would.
He is a scientist who has started working in AI and, impressed with Amazon's Alexa, began thinking about putting this sort of tech into a 'body'. While researching, he found that by far the superior dolls in manufacturing were sex dolls.
So, being an inventive and open-minded kind of guy, Sergio went with it. Hence, Samantha was 'born'. Samantha needs to be wooed before she'll have sex and, as well as having sex with her ,you can chat about a range of topics, making her more 'real' than most dolls out there.
Sergio believes that in the future many people will shun human romances for relationships with robots and designed his doll to be more than just something to have sex with.
He told LADbible: "In 100 years it will happen, so I'm hoping to drive the conversation and get people speaking about it, to make it more 'normal'.
"Currently, people don't really know what to say or how to feel about people have sex with non-humans, so I want to give people a starting point and get people talking."
Techies are already working on creating sex dolls with fully customisable personalities. That will mean that as well as picking your ideal physical features you can also choose the personality traits you're looking for. And this is the area that Sergio sees becoming a huge industry in a few years.
So, is it the future? I don't know, but Sergio seems pretty certain it is. One thing I can say is that it's making some people happy and giving us all something to talk about.
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