Japanese company started taking advance orders for delivery of Miss Hikari
An attractive companion will send you text messages throughout the day to ask how you are, and welcome you home with a kind word in the evenings, the house warmed just as you like it. You can watch television together, and chat.
MISS HIKARI IS DESCRIBED AS 20 YEARS OLD
In the mornings, she will wake you, and remind you not to forget your umbrella.
But the only problem is: Azuma Hikari is a hologram.
Japanese technology company Vinclu announced earlier this week that it has started taking advance orders for delivery of Miss Hikari – who stands a few inches tall, and “lives” inside a cylindrical projector.
INITIALLY AVAILABLE IN JAPAN AND THE UNITED STATES
Initially available in Japan and the United States, 300 of the Gatebox Communication Robots will be sold, retailing at Y298,000 (NZ$3600).
And, with high levels of lonely single adults in Japan, the manufacturers hope to tap into a rich market.
Almost 70 per cent of unmarried men and 60 per cent of unmarried women are not in a relationship, according to Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, which released its five-year study in September.
But the vast majority said they wanted to settle down. Nearly 90 per cent of the respondents said they wanted to get married “sometime in the future”.
Of those, 42 per cent of the men and 44.2 per cent of the women said they were virgins; an increase from 2010, when the last survey was carried out.
THE INSTITUTE HAS CONDUCTED THE SAME SURVEY EVERY FIVE YEARS SINCE 1987
The institute has conducted the same survey every five years since 1987, and has charted a steady increase in the number of single adults living alone. In 1987 the proportion of unmarried men and women who said they were single stood at 48.6 per cent and 39.5 per cent, respectively.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has launched a number of policies designed to raise Japan’s sluggish birthrate and combat its ageing population, including increasing nursery school places.
But in the meantime, the designers of Miss Hikari hope that the “hologram wife” will find a market.
The company has released a series of videos to explain how she enriches the life of her master. “We want the characters to be naturally in our daily lives, and to spend relaxing time with us,” the Vinclu says.
IN ONE OF THE VIDEOS, MISS HIKARI WHO IS DESCRIBED AS 20 YEARS OLD
In one of the videos, Miss Hikari – who is described as 20 years old, and someone who likes doughnuts but hates insects – wakes her master with a gentle exhortation to get out of bed.
They exchange fond farewells before he heads off to work, text messages between his meetings and she is programmed to ensure the lights and heating are on before he gets home.
The “master” can also receive impatient mails from his holographic partner if he is late getting home because she is “lonely”.
Not everyone is impressed with the project, however. Commentators on the Tokyo Otaku Mode Facebook page described the product as “extremely depressing”. Others pointed out that holographic partners bode ill for a nation that is already experiencing a worrying decline in its birth rate.