A scary new world of holographic companions. It’s here now.

Before I say anything, watch this video. Soak it in. Look at the grin on the face of the guy..

It’s more than a little creepy, however this virtual lady seems to be proving quite popular. They call it / her, the “Gatebox” in the PR email. “She’ll be your virtual home robot”, they say.

It looks like a connected projected character that will basically send you messages and keep you company. It’s perhaps the first step towards Joi, who was the purchasable holographic companion in the world of Blade Runner 2049.

Joi, from Blade Runner 2049

Gah, it makes me shudder, but it’s providing very popular in Japan. This interactive virtual character has, until now, only been available in limited numbers. In 2016 they made 300 of these and they sold out in one month flat, despite the fact that they cost over £2,070. Another 39 went on sale in 2017 and over 1,000 orders came in. So now they’re creating a mass-production unit, called the GTBX-100. It will have “added character realism” and added design refinements. It’ll be cheaper too, costing “only” £1,035 after converting it from the 150,000 Japanese Yen.

The Gatebox has WiFi, Bluetooth and IR sensors, plus it can let you know about news, weather and other information from the web. It can also, as you’ve no doubt seen from the video above, control your connected devices.

Look, she’s turning the light on!

The original character, Hikari Aizuma, will return in a newly upgraded for in December “to make her feel even more like she is a part of an owner’s life, such as by celebrating anniversaries or sharing a toast”.

Available in Japan only to begin with, you can get more information on this from Gatebox.ai. There’s a few more promo videos below and, whilst I’m trying to convince myself that this will be a good thing for those living alone, it still strikes me as a little weird…