Gatebox is a virtual home robot that will allow you to live with your favorite character. “It’s every otaku’s dream come true,” says the company, who is developing a miniature roommate that combines artificial intelligence with holographic technology.
Gatebox won’t be available until December of 2017. And when it does, anime lovers will have to pay 298K yen (about $2500) to live with Hikari Azuma, a blue-haired anime girl who will be able to recognize different patterns in your life and respond to them, like when you wake up in the morning or when you come home at night. She’ll even text you during the day with endearing messages like “I miss you” or “see you soon!”
It’s unclear exactly how technologically capable Hikari will be but the promotional video indicates that she might be able to connect to your smart-home infrastructure and do things like turn on the lights before you get home.
Gatebox taps into a certain Japanese male psyche made popular, in part, by the overwhelming success of “We Married as a Job” (Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu), a TV drama series that just concluded last night with its finale.
The story revolves around a male protagonist (he describes himself as a “professional bachelor”) and a female counterpart who enters into a contract marriage with him. The show, at least initially, portrays the unrealistic ideals of marriage that many bachelors in Japan assumingly dream of. Namely, an absurdly attractive partner waiting for you at home with a warm meal each night, no matter how late you get home. And all without the messiness of a relationship. In fact, there’s a near-identical scene in the TV series and the promotional video for Gatebox where the bachelor is approaching his apartment at night, looks up, sees the lights on, and smiles.
In Nigehaji, as it’s shortened to, the relationship inevitably becomes messy. After all, the two partners are only human. But for those looking for simulated love, Gatebox offers an even more compelling arrangement: “Enjoy a life with someone while still retaining your freedom.”