The GTBX-100 is a virtual digital assistant that we're horrified to assure you is quite real.
The device creates a hologram of a character named Hikari Azuma, which (we steadfastly refuse to personify this piece of software by calling it "who" or "she") interacts with its owner through Line and via voice commands.
And if that sounds disturbing to you, you'd better not watch the video above. Because it shows a young man bringing home gifts for his hologram and then having a romantic toast with it in celebration of THEIR THREE-MONTH ANNIVERSARY OF LIVING TOGETHER. Just writing that makes us throw up in our mouths a little.
The GTBX-100 is actually the second run in a series of products from a Tokyo company called Gatebox, a subsidiary of Line.
An earlier model, the GTBX-1, sold out its run of 300 units, priced at US$2670, in a month. The GTBX-100 is $1330 (plus a monthly $13.50 service fee), and the company is now taking orders. When it ships in October, the device will come with a "pre-trial version" of the character, but an upgrade promised for December will "make her [sic] feel even more like she [sic] is a part of an owner's life, such as by celebrating anniversaries or sharing a toast".
The device also performs traditional smart-device tasks such as turning on lights and presumably performing internet searches. The company says users can expect to see Gatebox further expand the device's repertoire of skills by making use of Line's AI assistant, Clova.
imaginedevoutly hope that the company is playing up the more romantic/flirtatious functions in a (successful) bid for attention. But still, people are buying the device, which is not cheap. So there's clearly an audience of men who thought the Spike Jonze film Her was aspirational. As one of our editors put it after watching the video, this is honestly the saddest thing we've ever seen.
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