16:19 GMT +329 March 2017
    Gatebox - Virtual Home Robot

    When Science Goes Too Far: Robot Companions Become Reality in Japan (VIDEO)

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    A Japanese company designed a virtual robot which helps with home automation and serves as a companion.

    Robots already ‘live’ in human homes helping people to do the things they do not like to do such as house keeping. Recently virtual robots such as Google Home which helps automatize living quarters was released. But Japanese company Gatebox has taken it a step even further by creating a virtual robot with animated 3D hologram girl as its avatar designed to interact with its owner.

    Gatebox is a projection tube weighing 5kg and displays a character inside the tube which has a camera, stereo speakers, a microphone, motion sensors, warmth and moisture sensors, luminance sensor, touch buttons, and a headphone port available for private listening. Everything is designed to make communication with the robot easy and life-like.

    The device can be connected to a home network and allows to automatize some tasks such as turning lights and household appliances on or off.

    Gatebox links to an iOS or Android app that allow users to chat with the character when they are away from home.

    The blue haired girl inside the tube is called Azuma Hikari and she even has her own website. According to the website, she is a “dimensional traveler.” Azuma is 20-years old and 158cm tall. She likes to watch anime as a hobby and her specialty is making fried eggs. She is also listed as liking donuts and not liking insects. Her dream is to help people who want to work hard.

    Azuma has two voices the owner can choose from. Gatebox has termed her as the “first character,” which suggests there will be options for more characters to interact with in the future.

    The device is priced 289,000 yen ($2,600). Now only the Japanese language is supported, but the company plans to launch an English version in December 2017.

    Based on their advertising, their target group appears to be male singles who are likely to use the robot to do housework and to receive moral support and communication – exactly what real girls were needed for in the past.


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    households, robot, communication, society, Japan
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    • American Socialist
      cool idea but mainly as a novel idea.
      Kind of depressing for someone to actually rely on this for a companion.
      It's essentially a girlfriend for loners but without any physical interaction.
    • avatar
      Its an anime toy for otaku?
    • avatar
      evagas14in reply toAmerican Socialist(Show commentHide comment)
      American Socialist, yes, but also without any bitching, nagging, criticizing, and complaining.
    • American Socialistin reply toevagas14(Show commentHide comment)
      evagas14, Get a dog.
      Would be cool for a girl .
      Or if this in addition to a girlfriend.
      But not cool as a girlfriend.
    • avatar
      evagas14in reply toAmerican Socialist(Show commentHide comment)
      American Socialist, Typical making an ad hominem comment rather than something about the reason for having such robots. I can't imagine why you'd defend the "right" of girls to be obnoxious and negative but never would men's.
    • avatar
      I don't think that this is science - more marketing the technology.
    • support
      I think this will be a Twitter-type fiasco where something developed as a tool to help people gets weaponized (as children are wont to do or there would not be a human race at all) into a tool for driving people over the brink into suicidal despair.

      Co-workers will mock those who have this at home, hackers will make the girl scream obscenities or demand child support payments and--on a non-satirical basis--this virtual "friend" will serve as a marketing tool for other insidious software the original buyer does not need.

      If a Japanese think tank hired to come up with a non-war solution to the nation's over-population problem was who actually came up with this, I would not be surprised.

      On the other hand...what a great idea for a personalized performance venue for New Media entrepreneurs, especially for stand-up comics, new-alt drama where the single character is the narrator and protagonist, or simply as a conductor of symphonic music or as a soloist.

      Quick! Someone call up the St. Petersburg Academic Orchestra! What a chance for budding alternative composers/entertainers. If there is no new generaiton of grand impresarios let this digital tool have a crack at it.

      Or...reading stories to the kids when they want to be read to from the same book for the 300th time.
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