It seems as if 2016 is quickly in the running to prove that we as a society haven’t learned too much from pop culture cues. As if Her wasn’t warning enough, the newest tech update is that a Japanese company called Gatebox is rolling out a virtual maid—and treat your loneliness—for about $2,700.
A blue-haired female anime-avatar can now be your companion, turning on lights, managing the temperature of your room and scolding you for being late to work. She can also control robotic vacuums and make sure they are done cleaning by the time you get home. Get lonely during the day, and fail at socializing with other human beings? No problem! Just pull out your phone and hammer out a text to your cybermaid. The artificial intelligence is ready at all hours to simulate human affection and concern.
The product seems to be marketed to lonely bachelors with a disposable income, not to mention the anime obsessed in general, a fan culture that often pines to live with the fictional recipients of their affection. The latter category will likely be thrilled to find that the character has its own background story and manga. Azuma Hikari is one of many planned avatars available to be programmed into the projection tube.
Smart home products, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, are rapidly becoming commonplace, and it’s just as likely that personified operating systems with animated interfaces will as well. Gatebox’s product mostly resembles a satire of Siri, so it’s not as strange as it may seem. I’d still be worried if a home operating system ever called Skynet came to the market, though.