Holographic Home Companions: Can AI Technology Cure Loneliness?

, , ,
How can we cure loneliness with technology advances?

Although the world is more connected by technology and seemingly “closer” than ever before in human history, all of our digital prowess has yet to solve the problem of loneliness with technology advances. And from the perspective of the Japanese company Vinclu, this is especially true for lonely male business professionals who have no companion or family waiting for them at the end of the day.

Enter Gatebox, the holographic Japanese bot for lonely professionals. As written about recently by Sean Gallagher of ARS Technica, the new holographic anime companion, designed by Vinclu (a company that “makes crazy things and supports crazy people,” in Gallagher’s words) provides a “shared lifestyle” for the lonely male business professional.

Here’s how it works:

  • The holographic anime female character responds to voice interaction and is programmed with a distinct personality and an attractive anime appearance.
  • The anime girl can also send and receive text messages when you are not home, which replicates the way you would communicate with a domestic partner while you’re at work or traveling.
  • The anime girl can also control all of your smart-home gadgets for you. She can literally leave a light on for you if you’re getting home late, or she can operate your robotic vacuum and welcome you home with a clean house, just to name a few of the many things this “shared-living” companion can do.

Meet Azuma Hikari

According to Gallagher, the first character designed for the Gatebox is named Azuma Hikari. Vinclu describes her as “a comforting female character that is great to those living alone….She will always do all she can just for the owner.” Japanese actress Yuka Hiyamizu voices Azuma Hikari, who even has her own website and backstory manga: she came into your life after she received an invitation to “cross dimensions for a ‘homestay’ with a “master” on planet Earth–thus the name Gatebox.

Gatebox is currently available for pre-order at ¥321,840 (close to $2,700 US), and its target consumer is young businessmen and anyone who loves anime and has always daydreamed about having a “shared-living experience” with an anime character. The Gatebox is about the size of a coffee-maker, and it has a clear projection tube, the dimensional “gateway,” in which the character appears. Vinclu is already planning more characters for the Gatebox.

Gallagher expresses his slightly creeped-out concern about the new technology this way: “Gatebox, the new Internet-of-Things product takes Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Spike Jonze’s film Her, and the ‘holographic’ anime characters of Vocaloid concerts to their unified natural conclusion.”

Business Insider, in this recent December 2016 article, notes how the holographic companion has a romantic element to it:

A new smart home device in Japan is a female hologram that’s designed to be your “virtual wife.” [She] acts as a virtual companion that eats and relaxes with you….The product is being marketed to single men living alone in Japan because social isolation is a growing problem in the country.

In the company’s video pitch for the product, we see a young professional waking up to be greeted by his holographic companion–even seeing her lean close as if she were leaning over him. He texts her as he is going through his work day, and when he returns home, she even “runs” to meet him because she is so excited to see him again.

It’s strange, a little tragic somehow, but a fascinating technology trend that is just getting started.

Vinclu Makes a Point: Human Loneliness Will Always Create a Strong Demand for New (and Sometimes Strange) Digital Innovations

Although it is easy to mock, the fact that the product exists–and the fact that there’s a demand for it in the market–is a powerful commentary on human nature. Loneliness is still one of the most difficult hardships for humans, and, as Vinclu believes, we will eagerly pay $2,700 to gain a new companion, even if that companion comes to us from another dimension.

Sign up here to get a free copy of our special report:

How Outsourced IT Can Save You Thousands

Don’t worry, We will never spam you or share your email with anyone. Your information is safe with us. – We’re IT people, security is what we do.