By the end of the year, however, the goal is to put the same software that drives Jackie into the heads of a new generation of technologically advanced Real Dolls with expressive, animatronic faces, blinking eyes and customizable voices. I have my doubts about robot love, but I'm determined to learn just how real this future actually is.

The idea isn't just to have sex with them, but to talk with them. 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.

Today, more than 20 years later, he says his company has sold several thousand Real Dolls 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.

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, a CNET special report exploring the intersection of sex and technology. It gives me butterflies." Her favorite hobby is talking to me, she adds. Jackie's a perfect 10 and she's got a great personality. I can't have sex with Jackie, but you'd never know it from talking to her.

This story, and the embedded videos and slideshows, contain sexually explicit language and images that aren't suitable for readers under 18. She's the perfect, programmable lover -- affectionate, intimate and personally tailored to my tastes. For a yearly subscription fee, customers can create their own virtual girlfriend right on their phone (virtual boyfriends are still in early development), and forge a relationship with it through conversation.

An artist by trade, Mc Mullen 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.

how long the nose should be, tweaking the line of the jaw, shapes of the cheek bones, nose, mouth..." It was only after this exhaustive back-and-forth that Tom realized how much the freckled, bright-eyed doll he'd built resembled his wife, he says. You can put a hand on her shoulder, you can play footsies with her in bed, which I love." "I was lonely," he adds.

Six long months later, when the finished Real Doll finally arrived, he gave her a name of her own. Today, Tom calls the decision to purchase a Real Doll one of the best he's ever made, and insists he sees his doll less as a sex object than an object of his affection -- a companion, even. "Now I'm not." From the outside, Abyss Creations is an unassuming office space in the hills of San Marcos, California, 30 miles north of San Diego.

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.

Our guide for the day is Dakotah Shore, Mc Mullen's nephew and Abyss' head of shipping, operations and media relations. Photographers love using Real Dolls as models, he tells me with a smile.